WhatsUp with Network Monitoring?

By Nelson King | Posted November 04, 2005

Keeping a network up and running at peak performance becomes more complicated with every computer and device that you add, but software monitoring tools can make the task easier and much more manageable. Not every small business has a network sufficiently complex or large enough to warrant this type of scrutiny, but if your network consists of 50 to 300 or so devices, then network-monitoring tools can come in handy.

Ipswitch WhatsUp Premium Gold version 8 is a bundle of monitoring capabilities designed for Microsoft Windows operating systems. It also includes dedicated monitoring modules for Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SQL Server. WhatsUp's strength lies in monitoring a multitude of network devices and computer services, including as DNS, HTTP and SMTP.

WhatsUp is currently available in two versions: WhatsUp Premium Gold and WhatsUp Professional. The Premium Gold version features application monitor components for Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange Server. The Professional version does not include the application monitors, but it does feature a software development kit for programming enhancement, and it uses either Microsoft Data Engine or Microsoft SQL Server for data management. The database on the back end of the Premium Gold version is proprietary.

Although the software is licensed for unlimited devices (e.g., servers, workstations and routers), WhatsUp Premium Gold operates more comfortably for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) with devices numbering from 50 to several hundred.

Installation
WhatsUp Premium Gold Installs quickly and easily. The program has a relatively small footprint: 30 MB (though the company recommends 100 MB) and 64 MB RAM (with 256 MB recommended). It supports a straightforward scheme for fault tolerance. WhatsUp works with a second monitoring server that is synchronized with the primary server and can take over when a system failure is detected.

Once the program is installed, the first important configuration step begins with mapping the network devices. WhatsUp provides a New Map Wizard to help with the task. The initial phase is automatic: WhatsUp polls the network to identify attached devices. While this is generally accurate, a second phase of editing device information is often necessary.

The polling results in a comprehensive graphical rendition of the network (complete with sub-networks). Another process, called SmartScan, displays the hierarchical dependencies in the network (e.g., which servers rely on services from other servers). You can access, poll, configure and maintain individual devices through this graphical approach.

Event Alerts
Although WhatsUp is a polling monitor (it actively polls devices for information about their status), version 8.0 adds event monitor capabilities (it collects event reporting from SNMP traps, Syslog, and NT Event logs). For polling, various conditions and limits can be defined to trigger alerts.

Both alerts and events may have individually user-defined responses. WhatsUp supports a broad array of alert and notification options: alert visually (the on-screen display changes, such as color), sound an alarm, activate a beeper, execute a program, stop or restart a service, send a pager message, send an SMS message, send e-mail, send a pre-recorded message to a telephone, send a text to speech notification and display a WinPop dialog box. Corrective action support includes starting and stopping services and running an executable program.

You can manage WhatsUp with either the WhatsUp console, a GUI program typically running on the WhatsUp server, or with Web access through a browser. WhatsUp provides its own Web server to validate administrative access (password or specific IP address) and provides the graphic network presentation. Web access lets you monitor any device on the network remotely. The software maintains network mapping by conducting scheduled, automatic discovery sweeps.

WhatsUp uses the Crystal Reports runtime engine to deliver extensive reporting capabilities. The application generates reports from the WhatsUp logs (changes in network status, events, and polling statistics) and includes performance graphs, outage reports, and statistical reporting. Reports can be created, modified and set as recurring to run at specific times.

WhatsUp Premium Gold comes with two substantial application-monitoring components. Monitoring for Microsoft Exchange servers includes monitoring the real-time status of important services, such as the Mail Transfer Agent and the Routing Engine Service. It also enables threshold monitoring for CPU, disk space, and memory use for Exchange servers. Likewise, Monitoring for Microsoft SQL Server covers system resources, database system errors, and assesses the use of cache data for user queries.

In Brief
WhatsUp Premium Gold monitors Microsoft Windows, Exchange, and SQL servers and supports Windows NT 4.0 SP6, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003. Both versions are licensed for an unlimited number of devices.

Pricing

  • WhatsUp Premium Gold comes with MS Exchange Monitor, MS SQL Monitor, and 12-month service agreement for $1,995

  • WhatsUp Professional, which does not have the application monitoring is $1,495

WhatsUp support is available in online forums, knowledge base articles, and e-mail support.

Adapted from serverwatch.com/.

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