Enterprise networks are experiencing a storm of connectivity, fueled by remote access, BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policies, virtual clients and the multitude of diverse endpoints demanding access to the network.
That situation has created challenges for the harried IT manager who needs to know the who and what that is trying to connect to the network to keep the enterprise security.
It all comes down to a simple question: If a network manager is unaware of a device, how can that manager control the connectivity to that device? Obviously, there are all sorts of technologies that can be deployed to validate devices, their users and control access. But those same technologies often come up short when it comes to detecting new devices or managing those that may only occasionally connect.
SolarWinds has come up with a way to address those shortcomings with its UDT (User Device Tracker), an application that starts at $1,795 and delivers the ability to discover, identify and control devices as they connect to the network. The product works hand in hand with the network's switching infrastructure to locate devices and control network access.
A Closer Look at UDT:
SolarWinds UDT is an application that is installed on the network and delivers automated user and device tracking along with switch port management capabilities. The product offers a browser-based interface, which is designed to allow administrators to stay in control of who and what are connecting to the network from a central, browser-based console.
UDT also can quickly locate an endpoint or a user, as well as track down lost or rogue devices through integrated searches that can be based upon a user name, IP address, host name or MAC address. What’s more, the product also stores historical data will show the last known location and when and where a device or user has connected.
I installed UDT on a test network to explore its capabilities and functions. My test network consisted of a Windows Server 2012 system, connected to multiple clients, with remote connectivity enabled via a broadband connection. The browser-based management required that IIS also be installed on the server, as well as Microsoft’s .Net and SQL Server Express to store the collected data.
Installation, as with other SolarWinds products, was wizard-driven and very simple to accomplish. However, installation is speeded by having a good understanding of your network architecture as well as the network switching environment. Overall, the installation wizard did a good job of detecting the network environment and offered easy-to-understand instructions to get started.
UDT has a relatively large feature set, especially when one considers that the product is designed to handle a small subset of the typical network management chores an IT manager has to deal with on a daily basis. In other words, the product is chock full of features that go beyond simple device discovery.
UDT offers these major capabilities:
- Network Device Tracking: UDT brings to the table the ability to discover devices and track when and where those devices connect to the network, and stores all the pertinent information about those devices, connections and history.
- Network User Tracking: The product is able to track users, as well as their devices, keeping an eye on who is connecting to the network, from where and on what device. That proves useful for vetting authorized users and tracking mobile access.
- Discover, Map and Monitor Switch Ports: Along with tracking and monitoring users/devices, UDT also can detect what switch ports are on the network, and correlate the usage of those ports with devices and users. What’s more, UDT can create logical maps of the switches and associated ports, as well as provide control over the ports.