Fluke Visual TruView Provides Deeper Insight Into Complex Networks

REVIEW: Visual TruView from Fluke Networks combines network monitoring, troubleshooting, forensics and analysis into a simple-to-use, all-inclusive package.

Sustained by complexity and explosive growth, the network beast has become ever harder to tame. Add to that condition the shortage of qualified network experts and it becomes easy to see that maintaining enterprise networks has become an almost impossible task without numerous hardware and software tools to monitor and troubleshoot network performance.

But now Visual TruView from Fluke Networks aims to tame the networking beast by combining multiple network management capabilities into a unified platform, which stresses ease of use, while still delivering the big picture of how traffic moves around the network.

Available as a family of network appliances, Visual TruView offers a plethora of monitoring, management and troubleshooting tools, which are all linked together under a common interface.

Unlike other products on the market, Visual TruView uses a paradigm that focuses on specific network capabilities. In other words, dedicated menus for application, network, voice over IP (VOIP) and Website performance make it much easier to navigate what is normally a complex discovery process.

What's more, Fluke Networks throws application performance monitoring and VOIP monitoring into the mix, creating an offering that could potentially replace three separate products from other vendors.

Visual TruView is appliance-based and is available under several different models, ranging in capacity, performance and throughput. However, the software feature set is the same across the appliance family. Prices start at $25,000 for the entry level TruView-2200 and scale up to $100,000 for the top-of-the-line TruView-6200.

A Closer Look at Visual TruView From Fluke Networks

I visited Fluke Networks' Colorado Springs office to put several of the Visual TruView appliances through their paces. Introduced Jan. 28, Visual TruView is available under five different appliance configurations, which share the same software. The appliances are sized based on elements such as throughput, storage, performance and overall capacity.

Installation can be somewhat complex. However, that complexity correlates directly to the complexity of the network to which a Visual TruView appliance is being connected.

This test network consisted of several sites and various pieces of networking equipment from numerous vendors. In other words, the test network represented what would normally be seen in a large, multi-site enterprise.

The appliance uses several technologies and protocols to gather traffic and hardware information, such as SPAN and TAP for packet capture, SNMP V1-V3 for hardware information, direct API integration for Cisco hardware as well as NetFlow, IPFIX (Internet Protocol Flow Information Export), sFlow, jflow, cflowD and netstream to capture flow information. Simply put, Visual TruView captures all traffic on the network and captures all the correlating information, allowing any "conversation" to be rebuilt, analyzed and measured.

However, capturing and storing that much information takes speedy hardware and significant storage capabilities, which ultimately dictates which appliance to use or if multiple appliances are needed. There is also another consideration here: The sheer volume of data being captured introduces analytical complexities that are well beyond most platforms and, in turn, difficult to understand.