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    Sometimes it can be difficult to explain what you do for a living to someone who is not technical. Usually when asked at gatherings, what comes to mind is the number of skill sets I have acquired over the years. If it's an informal gathering among friends, they don't really know and don't really care. With this crowd, I state I'm a computer dude. And that's that. But every once in a while, I run into a major player and I want to impress. The problem is, when I say IT Operations, Solutions Architect, IT Project Manager, it's still nebulous. The role does not talk about the technical background and communication skills that would be useful to a network guru.


    With Solarwinds Network Performance Monitor, it is kind of that Jack of All trades. Everything you need to know about your network is available due to it's large application of many tools with a back end database server that keeps track of the many important aspects of every node in your network.


    With this tool, you can perform many different monitoring tasks as well as discover your network and query devices. With the help of GNS3, I am able to run this very large software solution of network tools and test the features in my own private GNS3 network. The following tasks need to be completed:


    1. Create a virtual machine that will support the installation of Solarwind's NPM. I created a Windows 7 version via Virtualbox.
    2. Install GNS3 1.x, and add this virtual machine into the middle panel, which is called the 'topology window'.
    3. Connect the virtual machine through a virtual network, complete with the following:
      • A simple layer 2 switch found included in GNS3.
      • A router of my choice that will route traffic from the local subnet in which my virtual machine is apart of.
        • The router will also NAT the traffic out to what GNS3 pros call a 'cloud connector'.
        • A 'cloud connector' facilitates passing traffic from the internal topology of GNS3 out to an actual interface.
    4. The cloud connector will now use a Microsoft KM-TEST loopback adapter.
    5. That loopback adapter will also NAT traffic and forward it out to my physical wifi adapter.
      • This shared connection will then forward traffic to the local modem at home, which then moves on to the Internet.


    Those steps enable me to play with the NPM and add devices to access and query without hampering your production network. Here is a following screen shot of the finished product:




    Admittedly, there is so much to the NPM suite, that you can get it installed and running in about an hour after download but that just scratches the surface of this feature rich product. I recommend going to YouTube and searching for the official NPM tutorials. It's pretty in depth at all the things you can do which makes it an appropriate 'Jack of All Trades' in your network arsenal.


    The simple approach to checking out Solarwinds NPM would be the following:


    Download the Orion Network Performance Monitor here:  30-Day Free Trial


    I was able to test out the controls of the tool set and as I said before, there is more than meets the eye. The SNMP tools and network mapping I found most helpful. Use this virtual network to get the most out of this tool set without having to worry about affecting production network traffic. Then when you have this working topology running, impress your IT team with all the features that you learn which will make their lives (and yours) easier!


    Thanks for reading and you can reach me at The specified item was not found.  Join the community at and share your experiences at