I'm looking for a network monitoring tool, that can give me information regarding traffic across entire network, as well as helping to check for bottlenecks.

I'm looking for a network monitoring tool, that can give me information regarding traffic across entire network, as well as helping to check for bottlenecks. The tool should also be able to monitor individual computers, their drives, memory CPU usage and other stats. If possible it should also be able to analyze my network to determine if it's suitable for VOIP deployment. Currently I'm using then Solarwind's Engineer's Edition trial software, and it provides a lot of the information that I'm looking for. I also downloaded Observer 11 from Network Instruments, as it's supposed to have a wide range of VOIP tools in addition to the above mentioned requirements, however the $3,000 + USD price tag is a little too steep for me. If I need to use more than one tool for this I have no problem with that. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I'm looking to try and deploy VOIP in a test environment in the next couple of months (provided the network can handle it).
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fusionconnexConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I prefer the Solar Winds Orion Network Monitoring tool for general network monitoring, it is much more in depth than the Engineers tools, however it is not a good tool to test for VoIP readiness.

I highly would recommend a specific tool for VoIP testing, one that can produce simultaneous calls with different protocols and monitor latency and jitter on the network. I have seen a very comprehensive tool from http://www.violanetworks.com/ but I believe it is expensive. You can also look into NetIQ they have a specific tool designed for testing for VoIP readiness as well http://www.netiq.com/solutions/systems/voipmgmt.asp, once again this can get quite expensive.

Typically a VoIP vendor would do a network readiness assesment for you, and that is generally A LOT cheaper than buying your own tools.
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phillip_chapmanAuthor Commented:
One thing I forgot to mention is that the tool/software must be able to provide graphs as well as being able to set up alerts for certain conditions that can occur. For example I would like to know if a particular node on the network goes down or if a particular computer on the network is in need of being looked at. The graphs are more for me to show the "powers that be" what's going on within the network in a format that is easy for them to understand. The alerts are for myself as we run a call centre with approximately 60 stations and 4 servers, and it is very hard for me to be able to monitor each station. Additionally, I do a lot of software, telephony and Internet development, and I've been a really bad boy and have neglected certain items on the network, which is now coming back to haunt me. I agree with fusionconnex's statement that VoIP vendors typically do network readiness assesments, however, I have not had very good experiences  with a lot of the vendor's I've had to deal with regarding telephony solutions. For the most part I've had to deal with the "yes we can do this for you" but at the implementation stage getting the "oops, we thought we could do this and now you're stuck with us". If I can determine for myself that our network's OK then it would make me and the "powers that be" a lot more comfortable. One thing that I should mention is that we run a gigabit Ethernet network, where the slowest network component is running 10/100 mbps.
Hi phi,

Lets tackle the issue one at a time. How many voip users potentially will have? Each voip packet is around 64kpbs (normal land sound quality) and can be compressed to 8kbps (g.729 codec with additional charge by voip vendor). Most voip phone uses 10/100 so gigabyte is not the issue here. You can calculate potentially what is the max bandwidth usage. user*bandwidth. On a small network, you can easily get a Qos routers where certain percentage of bandwidth is dedicated to voice over data.  On a larger network, WAN, you will have to worry about bandwidth connection and routers connecting to the remote network.
If your network is a data hog, transfering large data files, maybe subnetting the network will help.
I agree with fusion on Solar Winds Orian Network Monitoring tool.

phillip_chapmanAuthor Commented:

I have approximately 70 users in the building (split between the office and call centre) with another 10-20 working from home as remote agents. I have managed gigabit switches with Qos and Cisco 1721 routers (which need to be upgraded) also with Qos. My computer and my servers are pretty much the only data hogs on the network, transmitting a few gigs of information daily. I'm going to take a look at Solar Winds Orion Network Monitoring tool sometime today.

phillip_chapmanAuthor Commented:
I've taken a look at the Orion Network Monitoring tool, and spoke with a few more people who also recommend this product. While this appears to be what would be best for my needs, it's going to be really hard to justify the $4500.00 USD for the software (this is based on 250 elements monitored, between drives, memory, CPU, and overall network. My switches use up 24 elements each!). The Engineer's Edition also offers a lot of the same tools, it's just not as robust as the Orion version, but allows unlimited elements. I'm open to any other suggestions that you might have.

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