Performance Monitoring Starts Here

Raise the bar for UC, cloud computing, virtualization, and more.

Elevate Performance. Reduce Downtime.

Observer understands complex VM environments and manages UC deployments, network performance, applications, and more.

ObserverWith robust and comprehensive analysis, Observer offers immediate issue resolution and builds long-term performance improvements. It provides the complete package needed by network managers, architects, and engineers to achieve peak performance:

  • Total visibility into network and application health
  • High-level to granular views
  • Customized Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • In-depth troubleshooting with root-cause analysis
  • Application performance analytics
  • Expert Analysis alerts you to potential problems and solution strategies
  • Over 30 real-time statistics including bandwidth usage, LAN use patterns, and more

How do network teams benefit from Observer?

They manage the impact of new application rollouts on the network; validate performance for telepresence initiatives; distinguish network issues from application malfunctions; and apply baseline intelligence for preventive management of critical applications. Observer is essential for the following:

From Apple® Talk to VoIP, Observer delivers individual packets views and decodes over 740 primary protocols and countless sub-protocols.

Observer actually makes you succeed faster.

- Elgin Air Force Base

With Observer, we were able to trace the packet's path across the network to the server, and give the server team concrete proof the database server was holding the packets.

- City of Jacksonville

We reviewed the best network management tools on the market, but no other vendor could touch Network Instruments Observer software for its combination of breadth of functionality and affordability.

- Aardman Animations

In addition to day-to-day monitoring and deep application analysis, Observer is also perfect for pre-planning the impact of new application rollouts on network performance.

- South Yorkshire Police

Download Observer 16.1

Observer builds performance by providing 360° visibility into your network with 24/7 monitoring analysis so network engineers, managers, and architects can stay on top of IT. When you download the free Observer, you receive a breadth of rich features, including those described below:

  • Total visibility into network and application health
  • High-level to granular views of performance
  • In-depth troubleshooting with root-cause analysis
  • Application performance and transaction analytics
  • Expert Analysis alerts you to potential problems and solution strategies
  • Over 30 real-time statistics including bandwidth usage, user and server activity, and more
  • Triggers and alarms
  • Packet capture, decode, and filtering
  • Conversation analytics
  • Extensive VoIP and video support
  • Trending

decode and analysis dashboard
View decode and analysis dashboard

Key Features

Application PerformanceApplication Performance

With virtualized visibility, you can manage application performance across virtual and physical networks. Reduce downtime and increase productivity with in-depth, contextual application analysis. And get response time data for thousands of applications plus performance metrics, transaction detail, and predictive analytics that show the network impact of new application deployments.

Expert AnalysisExpert Analysis

Get immediate intelligence in both real time and post capture using Expert Events for TCP, UDP, VoIP, Wireless, and more. It tracks and organizes common services, flags response performance by severity, tracks port-based protocols for slow response, and differentiates between network and application problems with local traffic and WAN/Internet traffic distinction.

Conversation AnalyticsConversation Analytics

Observer is the only analyzer that offers Connection Dynamics, which graphically breaks down individual network conversations piece-by-piece, pinpointing which request or response is causing the issue. Retransmissions and dropped packets are flagged for instant recognition of the issue source. Spaces between conversation sections identify latency and response time issues. TCP/UDP Expert Events show excessive retransmissions, and provide an explanation of the problem and possible causes.


Use network trending to forecast IT needs or justify upgrades with comparative reports. View and analyze network traffic stats over periods of time — from days to years. Trending metrics can be broadly applied to meet diverse challenges like translating web traffic into Internet usage data to appropriately bill departments on service use.


Perform in-depth troubleshooting with an interface that provides intuitive workflows for quick problem resolution. Deep drill-down capabilities with root-cause analysis pinpoint issues at the source with accuracy and ease. High-performance packet capture, decode, and filtering capabilities offer additional support.

Triggers & AlarmsTriggers & Alarms

Observer deploys ongoing monitoring of activity levels and immediately sends prioritized alerts when network fluctuations cross your pre-set levels. It gives you the following alert options: emails, paging, trouble tickets, or kick-starting an automated packet capture.

Features also include flagging activities or errors from a pre-defined list; setting custom notifications based on any filter; obtaining email with virus information (including source and destination); and placing triggers on any WLAN activity.

Packet CapturePacket Capture

The Observer's packet capture, decode, and filtering capabilities are second to none. Observer lets you view individual packets and decode for over 740 primary protocols and countless sub-protocols. Observer filters packets quickly and efficiently by address, address range, protocol offsets, and protocol presets using the intuitive GUI and by-command line.

Product Options

Observer offers three product options based on feature and functionality levels.


Observer Standard offers packet capture, decode, statistics, and more. Solve network issues through root-cause analysis, manage changes proactively through trigger and alarms, apply trending metrics for predictive planning, and more.

Get deep and ongoing monitoring.

Features on the Standard include all of the following:

  • Real time statistics with Top Talkers, bandwidth utilization, VLAN analysis, Internet activity, wireless analysis, IP Pair statistics, and protocol distribution
  • Automated real-time packet capture and decoding with nanosecond resolution
  • 64 and 32-bit application support
  • Error tracking
  • Filters
  • Virus and hack signature discovery
  • IPv6 Support
  • Network trending and reporting with comparison reports, ready-made reports, custom reports, and reports scheduler
  • Statistical drilldown
  • Triggers and alarms
  • Financial protocol support


Need a network troubleshooter with the speed and muscle complex applications demand? Our integrated network analyzer has every robust feature of Observer Standard with added power to pinpoint problems at the source, and automate the investigation and resolution processes.

In addition, Observer’s unique Expert Analysis provides the knowledge of 700 Expert Events that alert you to problems, with conversation analysis sections for TCP, UDP, ICMP, Voice and Video Conferencing, and Wireless.

You also get Connection Dynamics for graphical conversation views right up to the application layer. Plus Application Performance Detail that places app issues in the context of its IT environment; and Stream Reconstruction, VoIP tools, and MultiHop Analysis.

Use Observer Expert's power to keep end-users satisfied and increase uptime.

Features of the Expert Include:

  • Application trending and analysis for protocols and applications such as: Citrix®, DHCP, DNS, FIX, FTP, HTTP, LDAP, MS Exchange®, MS Networking® (SMB), Oracle®, POP3, SMTP, SQL®, Telnet, VoIP, and WebSphere® MQ
  • End-user experience monitoring
  • Expert Analysis with over 700 experts, expert summary, network delay, Connection Dynamics, MultiHop analysis, and "What-If" modeling
  • MPLS monitoring
  • NetFlow collector
  • SSL decryption
  • Stream reconstruction for web pages, emails, instant messages, VoIP, HTTP-transferred files, and video
  • Third-party decode and analysis
  • Trace file aggregation
  • URL-based tracking
  • VoIP Analysis offers: call detail records, aggregate call summaries, over 70 VoIP metrics, over 50 VoIP experts, QoS metrics, MOS, R-factor, and SRTP Support. VoIP Support includes Avaya®, Cisco, Mitel®, Nortel®, Siemens® and ShoreTel®


Our premium software console is packed with every feature the Standard and Expert offers, and then some. The Suite is a web publishing service, stealth troubleshooter, and complex problem solver – with added bells and whistles to make network managers work smarter, not harder. It provides tools to generate and share customized reports on the web, with optional custom decode modules for proprietary use.

Additional capabilities include:

  • Automated report delivery
  • Baselining
  • RMON support
  • SNMP device management
  • Switch station locator 
  • Advanced Web reporting

Compare Options

  Standard Expert Suite
Packet Capture/Decode [+] bullet bullet bullet
Real-Time Packet Captures & Decode bullet bullet bullet
Automated Packet Captures bullet bullet bullet
Nanosecond Resolution bullet bullet bullet
Financial Protocol Support bullet bullet bullet
Filters bullet bullet bullet
Find Virus and Hack Signatures bullet bullet bullet
Statistical Drill Down bullet bullet bullet
Triggers and Alarms bullet bullet bullet
Error Tracking bullet bullet bullet
Real-Time Statistics [+] bullet bullet bullet
Top Talkers bullet bullet bullet
Bandwidth Utilization bullet bullet bullet
VLAN Analysis bullet bullet bullet
Internet Activity bullet bullet bullet
Wireless Analysis bullet bullet bullet
IP Pair Statistics bullet bullet bullet
Protocol Distribution bullet bullet bullet
64 & 32-bit applications bullet bullet bullet
Network Trending/Reporting [+] bullet bullet bullet
Comparison Reports bullet bullet bullet
Ready-Made Reports bullet bullet bullet
Custom Reports bullet bullet bullet
Report Scheduler bullet bullet bullet
IPv6 Support bullet bullet bullet
Trace File Aggregation bullet bullet bullet
SRTP Support bullet bullet bullet
Application Analysis Trending bullet bullet bullet
Stream Reconstruction [+] bullet bullet bullet
Web pages bullet bullet bullet
Emails bullet bullet bullet
Instant messages bullet bullet bullet
VoIP bullet bullet bullet
HTTP-transferred files bullet bullet bullet
Expert Analysis [+] bullet bullet bullet
Over 700 Experts bullet bullet bullet
Expert Summary bullet bullet bullet
Network Delay bullet bullet bullet
Connection Dynamics bullet bullet bullet
MultiHop Analysis bullet bullet bullet
"What-If" Modeling bullet bullet bullet
Application Analysis [+] bullet bullet bullet
Citrix bullet bullet bullet
DHCP bullet bullet bullet
DNS bullet bullet bullet
FIX bullet bullet bullet
FTP bullet bullet bullet
HTTP bullet bullet bullet
LDAP bullet bullet bullet
MS Exchange bullet bullet bullet
MS Networking (SMB) bullet bullet bullet
Oracle bullet bullet bullet
POP3 bullet bullet bullet
SMTP bullet bullet bullet
SNMP bullet bullet bullet
SQL bullet bullet bullet
Telnet bullet bullet bullet
VoIP bullet bullet bullet
URL-Based Tracking bullet bullet bullet
VoIP Analysis [+] bullet bullet bullet
Call Detail Records bullet bullet bullet
Aggregate Call Summaries bullet bullet bullet
Over 70 VoIP metrics bullet bullet bullet
Over 50 VoIP Experts bullet bullet bullet
QoS Metrics bullet bullet bullet
MOS, R-Factor bullet bullet bullet
SRTP support bullet bullet bullet
VoIP Systems Supported [+] bullet bullet bullet
Avaya bullet bullet bullet
Cisco bullet bullet bullet
Mitel bullet bullet bullet
Nortel bullet bullet bullet
Siemens bullet bullet bullet
ShoreTel bullet bullet bullet
MPLS Monitoring bullet bullet bullet
SSL decryption bullet bullet bullet
NetFlow Collector bullet bullet bullet
Video monitoring bullet bullet bullet
Video metrics bullet bullet bullet
End-user experience monitoring bullet bullet bullet
Third-party decode and analysis bullet bullet bullet
LTE Support bullet bullet bullet
SNMP Device Management bullet bullet bullet
RMON Support bullet bullet bullet
Switch Station Locator bullet bullet bullet
Web Publishing Service bullet bullet bullet
Automated Report Delivery bullet bullet bullet
Baselining bullet bullet bullet


Platform Integration

The Observer analysis software is part of the Network Instruments integrated Observer platform where each product seamlessly works together to create IT management solutions for complex environments. Observer also connects with larger enterprise IT initiatives, including integration with IBM Tivoli and HP OpenView.

Observer is often connected with GigaStor, Observer Reporting Server (ORS), and Observer Infrastructure (OI) to increase management performance power.

  • Use Observer with GigaStor for long-term data capture and in-depth analysis on historical events.
  • Observer is also used with GigaStor for forensics analysis and stream reconstruction.
  • Observer paired with ORS for high-level or aggregate reporting, enterprise-wide reporting, and global alerting.
  • OI is a device visibility solution often used with Observer to filter captures on devices.

Product Integration Graph

How is Observer Deployed?

Observer deployment is flexible, intuitive, and problem-free.

The Observer analysis software is most frequently deployed on a network engineer’s laptop and used for diverse purposes like connecting to GigaStor and probes; acquiring data via local interfaces like wireless and Gigabit cards; and providing advanced Expert Analysis to packet captures acquired by third party devices. Additionally, some organizations may choose a centrally deployed Observer (Suite) for ongoing trending-data monitoring and analysis or the processing of alarms and alerts.

What's New?

Observer 16.1 is the latest Observer platform. The wealth of data offers depth and breadth, with granular filters that quickly sort statistics, delivering actionable information to your desktop the way you want it. Added technologies streamline processes for migration, management, and troubleshooting services in multi-layered, virtual, and unified communications (UC) environments. New features provide customer-driven workflows and deliver advanced correlation, search, and data mining with streamlined technologies.

See descriptions of the latest features across Observer, GigaStor, and the entire Observer 16.1 platform.

Explore new features added to the Observer Console below.

MobileMobile Communications

Deploy comprehensive, in-depth analysis for high-volume, high-speed LTE networks. With a history of IP expertise, Network Instruments now facilitates resolution for the most complex mobile issues. Our mobile communications support promotes proactive control of the LTE infrastructure, preventing service degradation during times of rapid traffic and user growth. It offers widespread support of LTE elements, interfaces, and protocols to fully characterize overall resource health and status. This includes full VoLTE support, the next generation call and video technology for 4G networks.

Secure Access ProtocolsSecure Access Protocols

Get powerful Application Transaction Analysis (ATA) with the added support of Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) and Diameter – two Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) secure access protocols. Verify AAA protocol effectiveness and assess underlying status and error messages via Observer's deep-dive packet payload analytics.

Fax over IP Support (FoIP)Fax over IP Support (FoIP)

Adding fax to your list of IP-based communications? Get comprehensive support for Fax over IP (T.38) through Network Instruments' existing VoIP Expert interface. This protocol allows conventional faxes to be efficiently transmitted across a VoIP environment. Health is fully quantified and in-depth packet analysis assesses status and error codes within the payload.

Microsoft® UC Support

Get in-depth support for the Microsoft® UC platform. Obtain summary views of UC/VoIP metrics and qualify user experience on a per-call basis. In conjunction with tracking VoIP, teams can monitor Microsoft Lync® server health by pairing Observer with Observer Infrastructure.


End-to-end monitoring of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) provides a comprehensive view of IPTV health by tracking metrics that include MDI, latency, packet loss, jitter, and QoS settings on a summary or per-session basis. It sends instant alerts for degrading video transmission quality and providing network managers with proactive control.

Third-Party Analysis

Multiple tools to manage and investigate performance issues are no longer needed because Observer now has integrated support for third-party analysis and exporting captures for external analysis and security solutions. This means you can send captures to security devices, compliance and forensic tools, and other network analyzers.

System Requirements

As with any network analysis product, more RAM and faster processors improve performance. Network Instruments does not support configurations with less than the minimum stated requirements.

Minimum system requirements

  • Dual core Pentium class processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Windows 7

Recommended system requirements

  • Quad core Pentium class processor
  • 8 GB RAM
  • Windows 7 (64-bit operating system)


  • LAN – 10/100, 1Gb, 10Gb, 40Gb
  • WLAN – 802.11a/b/g/n