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NAV features at a glance
Network Administration Visualized is an advanced software suite to
monitor large computer networks. It automatically discovers network
topology, monitors network load and outages, and can send alerts on
network events by e-mail and SMS, allowing for flexible configuration
of alert profiles.
Development of NAV started in 1999 at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). It originated as a collection of scripts used internally at NTNU's ITEA Network group. In 2001 UNINETT became interested in its development. In 2006 the development of NAV was moved from NTNU to UNINETT. NAV is used at nearly all universities and university colleges in Norway and many places elsewhere.
As of 2004 NAV is made freely available under the GNU General Public License.
NAV runs on a unix platform, software packages are currently available
for Debian, RHEL/Centos, Suse and FreeBSD.
The figure below gives an overview of NAV. As shown, the NAV database is the heart of the system (background processes are on the bottom of the figure, foreground web tools are on the top).
With reference to the figure, and in summary, NAV contains the following
A postgreSQL database (NAVdb
) modelling the running network. The physical interconnection of devices is auto detected, as well as the vlan topology.
A status monitor
that detects and reports
network outages. For severe cases where many devices are down NAV will try to pinpoint the root cause of the problem (i.e. distinguishing between devices down and devices in shadow)
for all “intersections” in the network; i.e. all router and switch ports. Octet, packet and error counters are collected, along with CPU and memory statistics (and more). Use the “ranked statistics” option to present a list of interfaces with most traffic, the highest error counts, etc.
A machine tracker
where you can search for machines and where they are or have been connected in the network. Search for mac addresse, IPv4 or IPv6
A network weather map (Netmap
) that displays the layer 3 and layer 2 topology and current traffic conditions. Dropdown menues give detailed information and links to the traffic statistics.
Reports that lists the inventory of routers and switches in the network. Information on software version, equipment type, location etc. Also detailed information of router and switch ports with data on IP address / prefixes, vlans, port speed and duplex etc.
A service monitor that reports on service outages. Support for the most important services; ssh, http, imap, pop, smtp, smb, rpc, dns, dc. Can easily be expanded to support more services.
A flexible alert system, where each NAV user can adjust his own profile with fine-grained control options. Currently support for email and SMS, can easily be expanded in the future. Profiles can be made to adjust the volume and types of alarms wanted, typically as a function of time of day and week.
Please note that all statistics are stored using RRDTool and Cricket is used as the main statistics collector. RRDTool and Cricket are not a part of NAV, they are third party GPL software. NAV will however auto generate the Cricket configuration tree based on data from the NAV topology database.
NAV answers your questions
NAV is developed by network engineers with years of experience, operating large campus networks. NAV development has been going on for more than 12 years. Our priority has always been; implement the feature we lack most first. The overall objective has been indisputable:
To illustrate how NAV might help you in your work environment, here are some questions you might ask yourselves. NAV can answer them for
What type of network equipment do we have in our network? What kind of switches and routers, how many of each, where are they located? What software and hardware versions are they running? How many modules are there in the various stacked and chassis based switches? Are there any free, or almost free, modules? Help me get the overall picture, I need to expand switch Z and are looking for spare parts…
NAV does not cover everything...
NAV helps you with many things, but not with everything (surprised?). You will always need a set of tools, no tool will cover every aspect of network management. And, of course, above all, you need knowledge of how to design and configure your network, how to troubleshoot etc.
Here are some areas where NAV does not help you:
NAV does not give you end-to-end traffic data. NAV gives you traffic load for each interconnection in your network, but does not know the origin of the traffic nor where it is going. This means no end-to-end information with IP-addresses and TCP/UDP port numbers. Netflow or RMON2 may help you more with this. We recommend that you complement NAV with a netflow analysis tool; i.e. NfSen