Adam Nathan blogged today about some new features in the Windows Vista December CTP. One of them is a new Control Panel applet: Network Map.
At work we commonly have problems with our switched network fabric. Sometimes after a power failure (a regrettably common occurrence at our location) the cheap 5-port switches at each desk will give all the signs of working, but not actually forward network frames – quite literally, “the lights are on, but no-one’s home.” Only power-cycling them gets them working again. Unfortunately there are chains of these in some places before reaching one of the wall sockets which connects to the main switch.
We also have a problem where, if one particular machine is switched on and connected, the entire LAN seems to go nuts, intermittently or permanently causing some routes to fail, unpredictably. We think this is due to the switches’ internal mapping of MAC addresses to ports somehow becoming incorrect, and forwarding packets to the wrong ports, or not at all. This is a mystery to all of us, especially since we’ve replaced the network card with a different model, tried it with different operating systems, tried it on a different wall socket, and repatched the wall socket/main switch connection. Nothing helps! If you have any ideas, leave a comment!
If this Network Map can tell you which device seems to be malfunctioning, that would be a serious boost to network administrators everywhere.