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Product Review: SolarWinds User Device Tracker 1.1

SolarWinds User Device Tracker (UDT) 1.1 is a network port-tracking application designed to be used as a standalone program or with other SolarWinds products, such as Orion Network Performance Monitor. UDT scans ports on routers and switches, returning information on the attached devices so you can run searches against the results. Despite the product's name, UDT doesn't display who is logged on to a device. However, in version 2.0 (which is due for release in first quarter 2012), you'll be able to map Active Directory (AD) users to PCs.

The primary use for UDT is to detect rogue devices on a network and help determine their physical location. You might need to track down a wireless router or a PC infected with a virus that's causing network performance problems. As Figure 1 shows, you can set up watch lists to track when devices are attached to the network. You can also keep track of port utilization over time so you can plan for future capacity upgrades.

 Figure 1: Using watch lists to track when devices are attached to the network
Figure 1: Using watch lists to track when devices are attached to the network

UDT uses SNMP to collect information and is compatible with any device that has a standard MIB. As part of the first year's maintenance contract, SolarWinds adds support for devices that UDT doesn't recognize.

Installing UDT

UDT relies on the SolarWinds Orion framework for the back-end infrastructure (most of the company's products are based on this framework), a web GUI, and a set of management tools. UDT requires Windows Server 2003 or later, IIS, and SQL Server. When I launched the UDT installer, it informed me that not all the required components of IIS 7 were present and offered to automatically install the missing modules. I wish all installer routines were so user friendly. A configuration wizard then quickly connects the Orion framework to your SQL Server database and installs some additional components.

Working with UDT

When launching UDT for the first time, you can add network devices manually or run network auto-discovery. Basic information is displayed for each node, such as its CPU load, memory usage, and Internetwork Operating System (IOS) version. The Orion framework can also collect syslog data. After a node has been added, a wizard takes you through detecting ports. UDT then displays what's connected to them.

UDT's power lies in its ability to not only search live data but also run searches against historical port information. You can search by IP address, subnet, host name, or MAC address. For convenience, first and last seen information is shown for each device and search results can be exported as comma-separated value (CSV) or PDF files.

Watch lists are easy to set up. If you want to receive an alert when a device on your watch list attaches to the network, you use the Advanced Alert Manager application to add the alert. Alerts can trigger a variety of different actions and, once created, can be edited from the web interface. UDT provides a variety of built-in reports that can be scheduled and sent by email. A separate application, Orion Report Writer, is included for customizing reports.

The web GUI is very intuitive and easy to navigate, letting you drill down and find the information you need. If you have geographically dispersed sites, the home page can be set up to display a network map so you can locate equipment easily.

An Elegant Addition to the SolarWinds Family

At a fraction of the cost of other port-tracking solutions, UDT does what it says on the box. Equally important, it's easy to set up and use. Medium to large enterprises should consider deploying UDT if they're in the market for a more complete network management solution. If you want to see the product in action without installing it in your environment, you can view an online live demo at the SolarWinds website. 

SolarWinds User Device Tracker 1.1
PROS: Ease of use; price; integration with SolarWinds network management products
CONS: Expensive for small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs)
RATING: 4 out of 5
PRICE: Starts at $1,795 for 2,500 ports
RECOMMENDATION: When integrated with Orion Network Performance Monitor or other SolarWinds products, this product makes a useful addition to a network management suite.
CONTACT: SolarWinds • 866-530-8100 •

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