Knowledge of communications protocols is useless unless it can be applied. Network analysis tools allow you to apply that knowledge using a variety of techniques. In this chapter, I discuss these tools and how they can best be applied to assist in proactively and reactively managing your networks. Because the objective is to apply these techniques and tools to analyzing TCP/IP, I concentrate heavily on the use of protocol analyzers, because these are the tools that allow us to understand a protocol as it operates over a network.
I use several tools to illustrate the protocols and techniques throughout the book. My goal is not to promote any single product but to explain the techniques that can be applied to a variety of analyzers. Each problem requires certain troubleshooting techniques to solve it, and these in some part dictate what analyzer features you need to troubleshoot it successfully. I start by reviewing the different types of network management tools that are available. I then shift the focus to utilizing protocol analyzer tools, explaining their use and benefits, and giving an overview of their functions. The last section of this chapter concentrates on analysis techniques that are applied in the upcoming chapters on the specifics of each protocol.
I have selected three products to use in illustrating the protocols and techniques presented in this book: