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I'm currently looking for a solution that would allow me to easily graph traffic on a network. Basically what I'm looking for is anything that could actively provide graphs/charts/colors etc. for our management to see "whats going on" in the network. I'm looking for something that provides a lot of eye candy, because of course, management loves that kind of thing.

If it's some appliance, I have no problem sticking it somewhere in the network to let traffic pass through it. The basic idea here is to actively identify, measure and graph the type of traffic and "wow" management with fancy pictures (even if they don't understand it).

Does anyone know if there exists an easy solution to provide live traffic data? We don't really want to hire any extra developers to create a web interface, so I'm hoping something is already out there that doesn't require much work/setup/programming. I could more than likely get the company to spend a lot of money and management would definitely buy anything (so no price is too high here). Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Zabbix, cacti, munin. Too lazy to write up an actual answer... one too many Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster's last night. – Silverfire Jan 17 '12 at 4:02
mrtg - – symcbean Jan 17 '12 at 9:38

The already mentioned Zabbix, Cacti, Munin and ntop are excellent for general network traffic graphing.

But if your management is not very technical and you have some web servers around, logstalgia provides you lot of eye candy. Just tell them you are debugging your web server load issues or whatever. :-)

You can use it in real time like this:

ssh logreaderaccount@yourhost "tail -f /var/log/apache2/access.log" | logstalgia -f -

Above would connect to your web server and run logstalgia locally at your workstation, so no additional load or installed components at your server are needed.

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I suggest you check out Munin out munin which is fairly easy to setup, and provides daily, weekly, monthly and yearly graphs for your network and lots of other stuff on your system.

On an Ubuntu system, you can just execute the following commands to get it up and running:

sudo apt-get install munin munin-node
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Along the same lines as logstalgia is gltail.

It has a different visualisation style (not pong, so it looks slightly less like a game) and it has a cute "funnel" effect that looks like a visual backlog when your server is busy.

I've only ever used it for Apache but the site says "If you can 'tail' it, you can visualise it."

Presumably, if you wanted a pure network visualisation, ignoring what protocols were being used, you could write a quick script to loop over "parsing" netstat -s output, sleeping for a second and redirecting the output to a log file and then use gltail on that.

while true
  netstat -s | grep "total packets received" | awk '{print $1}'
  netstat -s | grep "bytes directly received" | awk '{print $1}'
  sleep 1
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You can try ntop. It is really powerful and nice network graphing tool that has a web interface. It should be installed near the gateway to see all traffic to be graphed. It can show you graphs for IP addresses

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The usual suspects of cacti, munin, mrtg aren't what you're after here. You're after something that can act as a netflow collector for your various network devices that can pump out netflow and sflow streams.

Ntop can do this but is ugly as sin. Great for ops people, not great for wowing management. Ntop can also plugin to cacti, but is still ugly and so is cacti.

For real time stats graphite is a good bet these days, but probably not a good fit for your needs.

As you say price is not too much of an issue, but dev time is, a netflow appliance from someone like Netscout or Infovista might do the trick. Google netflow collectors and get a bunch of vendors to demo some kit for you.

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