NetCrunch is David to the network monitoring industry’s Goliaths, and runs flawlessly on mobile devices
AdRem Software has been quietly developing NetCrunch out of their Krakow headquarters for more than 13 years now. Their newest iteration continues to build upon a solid bedrock of efficient coding and easy to use GUI.
NetCrunch is an all-in-one and agentless answer to all of your network monitoring needs. In one package you can monitor your network devices, servers, desktop endpoints, applications, files, logs and any SNMP enabled device. Don’t have SNMP? It doesn’t matter, it can still monitor it. The included OpenMonitor allows you to feed any data into NetCrunch. Tired of wasting time on repetitive actions? NetCrunch can run automated corrective actions like rebooting a device, restarting a service, or running a script based on an alert. Management constantly hounding you about the network? Create them a profile that shows them the health of the network, but limit their views and don’t let them drill or make changes.
Their most visible competitor today is PRTG, but aside from similar price points, it’s hard to call them peers. PRTG is geared towards smaller networks, and has recommended soft limits of 2,500 on a VM and 5,000 on a physical machine. NetCrunch has no hard limit, but they do recommend keeping installations to about 3,000 nodes each. Nodes. That’s going to be about 60,000 sensors, but current clients are already running over 150,000 sensors, and in lab testing it’s reached 240,000 sensors. On a single installation. With NetCrunch there is also no performance degradation by using a VM. NetCrunch has a library of over 7,000 precompiled MIBs, and if something isn’t included, it has a built-in MIB compiler. A simple wizard can then create a monitoring pack for all the devices you have running that, or any other MIB. Trying to monitor something in PRTG that isn’t already included? Copy and paste meaningless OIDs and hope you set it up right.
A better comparison would be to Solarwinds, the darling of many large and enterprise installations. Here, the differences to take note of are less performance (though NetCrunch does run faster), but of value and ease of use. NetCrunch is effectively an all-in-one combination of Solarwinds Network Performance Monitor, Server and Application Monitor, NetFlow, and the virtualization monitor. It’s integrated to begin with and runs flawlessly internally. Apart from that, the embedded SQL database that’s featured in NetCrunch doesn’t carry the additional licensing and hardware requirements that MS SQL does. In fact, the embedded SQL database in NetCrunch needs nothing more than hard drive space. There’s no limit on the amount of data being stored (Aside from the design limits of SQL itself), or how long you’re storing it. That’s significant for anyone familiar with MS SQL licensing costs. For performance data, they use a No-SQL database, which has no architectural limitations whatsoever.
While a strong player in the international market, particularly in Japan and Germany (for which they have localized versions), NetCrunch has had a tendency to be drowned out in the United States by its larger competitors. AdRem has, however, found a niche in the EDU and GOV space. These tend to be organizations with large and often complex networks that face both staffing and budget limitations. Free and open source options like Nagios are often too time consuming for a limited staff, and other options simply don’t scale enough for their needs, or are limited in their monitoring scope.
A particularly impressive case study in the use of NetCrunch for network monitoring comes from the University of Hawaii. The Aloha Cabled Observatory project of the Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) uses NetCrunch to monitor their undersea scientific equipment.
Brian Chee of SOEST lauds NetCrunch: “The ability to monitor combinations of both ports and services are slowly being deployed deeper and deeper along the undersea cable. Our combination of dry land equipment and undersea equipment is reflected in NetCrunch Tabs and grouping, giving us the ability to very quickly see where in the component chain problems are occurring.” You can immediately see the benefit that NetCrunch provides them, being able to monitor against losses of scientific data, but also limiting the need for expensive service calls to the observatory involving an ROV far off the coast and 3 miles under the Pacific Ocean.
NetCrunch is multi-screen NOC room optimized, with dockable windows and a rotating view function. But if you’re a sysadmin on the go, they also have desktop, mobile and web consoles that are fully touch capable for use on your tablet or smartphone.
If there ever was a time to jump on the NetCrunch bandwagon, it’s now. This software is too good to stay hidden, and this price point won’t last.
You can download a 30-day trial which comes complete with tech and installation support, and has no limit on the number of nodes you can monitor.
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