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LAN & WAN Reviews

In Use

With the Pulse installed and my network configured, there were a couple of things I wanted to test. First, I wanted to verify notification in the event of a problem, both via email and to my cell phone. Second, I wanted to test the analog modem functionality, as this can be necessary for sending alarms when network connectivity is down.

To test notification, I used my Windows server as the guinea pig. For notification to work, each device in the Pulse Dashboard has to be enabled for notification, and you need to configure users and Alert groups. In my test, this was relatively simple, configuring myself as the sole user in a single Alert group. Obviously, additional employees can be added as necessary.

I have a Verizon cell phone, which can receive text messages via an email address of (myphonenumber)@vtext.com. I used this email address as the notification for my user account in the Pulse Dashboard. There is an option for short or long format messaging, depending on whether the message is going to an email inbox or cell phone.

I did a simple graceful shut down of my Windows PC and noted the time it was down. I pinged it to verify it was gone from the network. Within about one minute, alarms started appearing on the Pulse Dashboard, indicating a failure of the IP address of the Windows PC.

In a few more minutes, I started receiving text messages to my cell phone telling me there was a problem. The text of the message for failed pings was as follows:

From alerts@pulse.belkin.com

            PANIC 0h 16m dur

            Packet Loss=100.0

            192.168.3.51 ping

Additional messages were similar, reporting failure of the CPU scan, memory scan, and so on. Also, the FTP and Web monitoring services indicated “No route to host.”

Test one passed! The Pulse detected the Windows PC was down and sent notifications reporting the conditions.

Turning the PC back on and starting all necessary services on the PC cleared the alarms on the Pulse Dashboard automatically. Further, I received messages to my cell phone that all previous conditions were now OK. For example, the OK message for ping showed Packet Loss=0%.

Kudos to Belkin on enabling both outage notifications and corresponding alarm clear notifications. It is fairly common for alarms to clear themselves, so it is welcome news to receive a message showing a device restored and the condition cleared.

I repeated the above test; this time configuring the Pulse to send notification to my email address; below is the text of one of the messages.

Alert for Small Net Builder from TestNetwork
Name: FTP

06/01/2007 21:28 - PANIC - 192.168.3.51 (192.168.3.51), No route to host
06/01/2007 21:28 - CREATED

Elapsed time: 0h and 0m.

General Host Alert Notes

            Windows Server Error!

Notice in the above message the line that says “Windows Server Error!” This is a custom message I entered in the Pulse configuration, which is useful information telling me which of my devices is in alarm. Each device can have a custom message configuration, which will help the network administrator receiving the messages better understand the condition.

To test the analog modem, you need a dial-up account. My network is pretty small, and long ago I canceled my dial-up service in favor of broadband. It's a good idea for a business network to maintain a backup dial-up account, and this is an example where it is valuable. I used a temporary dial-up service so the Pulse could dial out.

For the analog modem test, I disconnected the WAN cable to the main router to simulate a failure of the Internet service. 

I was pleased and impressed to quickly receive messages to my cell phone indicating that the WAN interface on my main router was down. Internet access is a key element of most networks, and can be one of the more common sources of failure. The Pulse's included modem and ability to use an alternative dial-up service to notify of network failure enables a network administrator to quickly contact their ISP and report a problem.

Alert message

Figure 8: An alert message warning of a connection failure

From the above message (Figure 8), you can see that the Pulse is indicating “Connection to 192.168.3.1 timed-out.” This is a little misleading, as 192.168.3.1 is the internal IP address of the router, which did not fail. 192.168.3.1 is also the name for the device in the Pulse configuration, which explains the message. Most important is the “Name: ixp0” section at the top of the message. This tells me the alarm is on the WAN interface on my router.

Test two passed! The Pulse detected my Internet connection was down and was able to notify me through a secondary connection.

A nice option on the Pulse is the ability to add multiple users to your notification, enabling paging on some alarms and general emails on others, as well as the ability to send messages to multiple recipients.

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