“The new switch features look great, I’m impressed with the detail on ‘connected devices’. It is a very cool feature to have and saves time when troubleshooting.”Damien Parker, Product Manager at Utility Networks
Plasma Cloud always strives to deliver a simple and straightforward way to manage, monitor and troubleshoot all your wired and wireless networks. Today, we want to put special emphasis on how you can gain enhanced insights into all your connected devices. This allows you to save time and effort when investigating wired connections to adjust configurations and troubleshoot.
Common deployment issues
Network installers know that wired deployments often involve heavy cabling and long work sessions spent tweaking the necessary configurations. This is especially true when dealing with large switches.
Just imagine arriving at a venue that you have just taken over, or one that you outfitted a few years ago. Imagine having to add new equipment to it, or figure out what is causing a certain issue. In such cases, the first step generally involves gathering information about your deployment. How are devices connected? Are all cables in working condition? Is this Access Point connected to port 11 or to port 23?
Also, what happens if you want to provide remote network support? How do you guide someone through the wiring chaos depicted in the picture above, without an easy to read graphical reference in front of you? How do you figure out whether a cable is positioned in the wrong spot, or even malfunctioning? It can quickly become a nightmare.
Even with cloud-managed switches, which are often configured remotely, some dashboards present switch configuration panels that look like a chessboard. In such panels, you may see every possible setting arranged in a big and complex table. Figuring out what’s wrong and what needs to be changed may require quite some effort and is inevitably prone to mistakes.
How does Plasma Cloud help you?
We have already discussed how our layer 2 topology intelligently maps and visualizes the architecture of your network in a very intuitive way, providing essential information to network professionals. Today, we want to show you our switch & port overview, with the inclusion of the new connected devices visualization. This feature set offers yet another great network overview, mainly focusing on a specific device and its direct connections. It can easily help you solve most of the common deployment issues described in the previous section of this article, saving precious troubleshooting time and effort.
Switch and ports overview
The visual representation of all switch ports provides an accurate and up-to-date overview of your selected switch. Various colors and symbols highlight the current port status as needed, updating it every few minutes. The legend below helps to avoid any potential confusion.
You can also hover over any of the ports in the graphic to gain more insights. For instance, in the image below, you can see the three popovers for ports 2, 5 and 8. As shown, port 2 has a wired link and 9 clients are connected to the Internet through it. The device connected to port 5 is drawing power, 3.9 W, and is also providing connection to 9 clients. Finally, port 8 is used as uplink with 192.168.X.X being the network gateway. The link speed is also clearly indicated in each popover as well as the name of the connected device, if available.
All the provided information allows network installers to better manage and monitor their networks, as well as to easily perform remote troubleshooting.
The table below the switch graphic also provides this essential information to cater to customers looking for another overview format.
This information is automatically detected for you, thus there’s no need to manually enter it. In the example table above, you can also see that some connected devices are shown as hyperlinks. When you click on any of these links, which appear exclusively for connected devices belonging to the same network as the selected switch, the console immediately leads you to the related device settings page. This is especially useful when you want to have a quick look at the configuration of a particular device. However, if you wish to have a broader overview of your network, we suggest using the layer 2 topology instead.
Through this table, you can also power cycle devices that draw their power from the switch via PoE. This is done by clicking on the action button (three dots) at the end of the related row. In the example above, this action is only available for Ethernet port 5, as it is the only port providing PoE to a connected device. Having this functionality available alongside all this essential information allows you to avoid any mistake in selecting the device you wish to reboot. Plasma Cloud is built in such a way that everything is interlinked together, offering a great integration of Access Points and switches. Gone are the days of countless hours spent on troubleshooting complex configurations!
Connected devices visualization
As the human brain often thinks in terms of pictures and visuals, it does not come as a surprise that an image is worth a thousand words. This is why we decided to also provide a clear visualization of connected devices, alongside the sources of information mentioned in the sections above. Users can access this visualization at any time by enabling the ‘Show connected devices’ toggle on the top left of the switch graphic.
As you can see from the example above, devices are displayed as icons connected to the related ports. Blue icons represent Plasma Cloud devices which are part of the same network as the switch. Red icons depict hardware from other brands or Plasma Cloud devices not part of the same network. For simplicity’s sake, we will refer to this second group as red devices. Furthermore, different types of icons also provide information regarding the nature of the device. For instance, a WiFi icon stands for an Access Point, while a switching icon represents a switch. Clicking on any of these icons opens a popup providing further information.
By clicking on a blue device icon (left image), you can visualize information about the device such as name, model, the connected port and a link to its settings page. However, limited details may be available for red devices (right image) depending on a number of factors. For instance, does the connected device support the LLDP protocol and allow Plasma Cloud to collect information about it? Plasma Cloud will always strive to offer you the most comprehensive overview of all connected devices, including third-party hardware.
Plasma Cloud effectively shows you how your cables are wired, providing enhanced insights into your connected devices to avoid manual cable tracing and mapping. This is extremely useful to handle situations such as the ones described at the start of this article, with cables going all over the place. Even with no previous knowledge of a network, you can still quickly gather all the necessary information to troubleshoot and apply changes as required. Everything is finally available at a glance and interlinked for easier management and monitoring, saving precious time.
If you are thinking this could not get better, allow me to remind you that all Plasma Cloud devices are budget bundled with a free and powerful cloud management system. And yes, this feature set is included as well at no additional cost. Have a look at our product suite to find out which Plasma Cloud device best suits your needs!