Tactical Advice

Network Monitoring: Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold

This network management tool can ease the monitoring burden for small and midsize organizations.
This story appears in the June 2010 issue of BizTech Magazine.

Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold v.14.2 delivers feature-rich network management appropriate for small and medium-size organizations and departments. The enterprise tool can monitor network devices, servers, services and any application that relies on TCP/IP and Windows networks.

New features such as Alert Center console and speedier network discovery are sure to make WhatsUp Gold a mainstay in Windows and network monitoring for years to come.

End-User Advantages

WhatsUp Gold is agentless, which means it installs no software on the servers and clients that it monitors. It simply uses credentials and configurations supplied to it at the monitoring server to perform tasks such as monitoring Simple Network Management Protocol, syslog and Windows event logs.

With an agentless system, users won’t be inconvenienced when IT has to install software on their PCs. It’s good as well for those users who complain that agent-based monitoring tools affect performance.

Why It Works for IT

Installation of WhatsUp Gold was painless and took about 10 to 15 minutes. The product comes with its own web server and can either install a Microsoft SQL 2005 Server Express Edition database or use a pre-existing Microsoft SQL Server.

The product’s scanning feature has improved in terms of speed and reliability. On my small lab network, I have a wireless router, two servers and various workstations and notebooks. WhatsUp Gold detected all of them, and within minutes I had a monitoring solution doing basic PING and web-services tests.

Reporting is always important — for trend analysis, for proactive management or just to show the CIO how well you know your network. WhatsUp Gold provides more than 200 out-of-the-box network and server reports. The Split Second Graph Workspace Report feature supports real-time data capture for up-to-the-second updates. And historical reports help you determine what next year’s budget will look like if marketing continues to add video files to the disk storage units.

WhatsUp Gold’s Alert Center provides a single workspace that consolidates all alerts, notifications and alert acknowledgments for easy configuration and management. The tool supports a variety of alert methods, including Simple Mail Transport Protocol and Short Message Service. You can even use the product to restart a Windows service before users even notice the problem occurred.

Depending on vendor support, the tool can drill down far enough to monitor such things as power supplies and cooling. At present, only Cisco and HP support this functionality. Administrators can view this information as a list of devices or a network map.

Disadvantages

WhatsUp Gold comes in four flavors, with at least five potential plug-ins — all of which cost extra. The Standard Edition offers the basics, but if you want features such as Windows Management Instrumentation connectivity, you’ll want the Premium Edition. There’s a Distributed Edition for organizations that need to monitor branch locations, and even an MSP Edition for service providers.

Dr. Jeffrey Sheen is the lead enterprise analyst for Grange Mutual Insurance of Columbus, Ohio.
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