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Old 07-09-2009, 04:05 PM   #1
Ford Falcon
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Question Open source scripting or web tools?

G'Day viewers,

My first post on this forum.

Linux newbie here (I use Kubuntu 9.04 and find it far more enjoyable to use than Windoze).

I'm looking for some advice on ways to improve a work process. I work at a network operations center (NOC), and the way our company receives alerts is as follows:

*each satellite facility where a pc/server reports alerts via their event viewer will send these alerts to the monitoring center over a dial-up or vpn connection. The alerts are sent via email to an Exchange Server, then stores on a MS-SQL server.
* the monitoring center receives these alerts via a webpage written in FrontPage v5.0 (yes, hard to believe, I know) where scripts have been written to extract the relevant information from the SQL server.

Anyway, what I'd like to do is find a more efficient way to bring these alerts to the screens at the NOC, and make better use of the screen display.

I thought about a crash course in writing some scripts and using VisualStudio (Visual Basic) to achieve this but I am interested in what would be a good open source equivalent to Visual Basic, as I have to consider licensing costs. If someone can recommend something else, feel free to do so.

I'm not sure if I've explained myself well enough, or if I need to expand a little more on something, but Iam interested in everyone's opinions here.

Thanks in advance, and great site!

Old 07-09-2009, 04:44 PM   #2
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For scripting tools, you could use bash/gawk/sed, which come with any linux distro. If you need a GUI, you may wish to familiarize yourself with Python, which works very well as a scripting language, too. For something that is operating system independent and that will work on almost every computer, there is java. Python is OS independent, too, but as a rule it is more likely that windows and mac computers in particular have the sun java JRE while they haven't got any python runtime. If you are familiar with .NET, you may want to explore Mono, which can be used to write in both VB and C# (but more and more is being added all the time, such as support for python, java, Mysql, etc).
Old 07-09-2009, 05:03 PM   #3
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Ok. Having worked in several NOCs previously, I can understand what it is you are wanting. I can also state that the way it is currently accomplished is extremely inefficient. The most efficient system I've seen (mind you this is an extremely simplified explanation of the setup) was to setup a persistent VPN connection between each satellite office and the NOC. Each VPN on the NOC end is grouped into the same subnet. Finally, use a network monitor or network management app server to keep tabs on all services in the subnet.

There are (as usual) several tools available in the open source community for monitoring network services. Google-fu is your friend on that note.
Old 07-09-2009, 05:26 PM   #4
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I agree. Reinventing the wheel definately isn't necessary or even holds a risk. There's lots of system monitoring and management tools and suites around like GroundWorks, Hyperic, OpenNMS, Nagios, Xymon, Zabbix, Zenoss. Have a look at, Freshmeat, Sourceforge and search LQ for threads about 'em.
Old 07-14-2009, 03:05 AM   #5
Ford Falcon
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Thanks very much for your input. It's definitely made me think of a variety of options.

It is, for the most part, pointless to re-invent the wheel, so I am reviewing the open source network monitor offerings. Unfortunately, I do not manage the NOC I work at, so I'm not in a position to make decisions for it, but it doesn't stop me from giving advice.

In the mean time, I'd like to ask a follow on question.

As I mentioned in my first post, the sites send their alerts to the NOC via email, and the exchange server transfers these files to a SQL database, which in turn are then sent to the alert page. It seems to go through one too many steps in order to get the alerts to the screen. Aside from the network monitoring tools you guys listed, and just from a basic data transfer point of view, can you see a more efficient method of receiving alerts from a site than doing it like this? (Remember, I work with both dial-up and vpn sites).

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by Ford Falcon; 07-14-2009 at 07:06 AM.
Old 07-14-2009, 08:12 AM   #6
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As you work through this, be sure to keep your eye on the ball. If Linux is already "in the shop," it is a very worthy tool to be used. If, on the other hand, you would have to introduce Linux in order to do what you contemplate, it will be a much harder sell. Although Microsoft does charge sometimes-hefty licensing fees, the organization is paying them already, under some kind of blanket agreement.

In the Linux world, remember in-particular that you never want to "do what has already been done," and no matter what you are doing, someone undoubtedly has already done it. So, you want to take a look at things like (Perl) CPAN modules, SourceForge, and so on. Spend a lot of time formally and systematically exploring your options.
Old 07-14-2009, 12:24 PM   #7
Ford Falcon
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Thanks sundialsvcs.

I will definitely look at the Linux option, since cost appears to be just one of the limiting factors. Even though I am a relative newbie, I feel a steep learning curve approaching.

I may be getting a little off tangent here, but an idea just came to mind and now I'm thinking of making use of something like SNMP as an alternative to receiving alerts via email.
Old 07-14-2009, 10:21 PM   #8
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so here goes the noob jumping into the pros forum-forgive me if I'm naive.

I had set up a perl mail client a couple months ago when I started playing with perl, which could easily be scripted to check for emails and you can do whatever you want with the content there with either perl or bash.

I believe you said one of the first actions is an alert is sent via email. I would tack on your email address to that mailing-list and set up your box to poll regularly for new mail and you can set it up to process it as it comes.
Old 07-15-2009, 12:51 AM   #9
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SNMP is certainly offered as an option by such tools as NAGIOS, OPENNMS etc.


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