WhatsUp Gold: Daily Network Monitor Blog

Network Monitoring News

By Daniel Okine

Most college students in the U.S. spent a good part of this month prepping and taking their fall midterm exams, and straining their campus networks as a result. IT teams who manage the campus network, however, are tested each and every day in subjects like BYOD and network performance. With the average student carrying around at least two wireless devices, campus networks are under pressure to deliver a sustainable and consistent online experience.  campus network monitoring

Our recent survey of 313 students attending U.S. colleges and universities found that 67 percent of students had a minimum of two to four wireless devices connected to the campus network at all times. Adding to this dilemma is the constant introduction of new mobile devices and wearables like the Apple Watch.

Not only are students more connected than ever before, but they are using these devices for bandwidth hoarding activities. The survey revealed that 63 percent of students spend one to four hours a day streaming media using services like Spotify, Netflix and YouTube. It’s becoming a constant battle for campus IT between being able to provide a positive user experience and maintaining network integrity.

Given the additional pressure that new technology is bringing to the campus network and the fiscal pressures for IT to do more with less, here are three steps for network administrators to consider:

  1. Increase your level of visibility. You can’t fix problems that you don’t know exist. With network performance monitoring you can rapidly respond with real-time alerting to fix problems quickly.
  2. Watch out for wearables. College students have high expectations for being able to use their shiny new wearable or mobile device of choice, whenever and wherever they want. It’s a generation with expectations for technology that is not going to change. Campus IT teams need to adapt. Or at least prepare to do so.
  3. Know your configuration. Who knows what’s on your big sprawling campus network? You can if you are able to manage network configuration. Compare what is running on your network vs. what is authorized to do so. You can also schedule regular configuration audits and get alerted when configurations have changed.

 

By Daniel Okine

Today I’d like to share an excerpt and link to today’s blog about network management posted by Jim Frey from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) . It’s a great lead-in to his firm’s recent report on Enterprise Network Availability Monitoring Systems (ENAMS). From Jim’s post:

network management

“It’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between hype and reality when it comes to topics such as cloud, ITaaS, SDN, DevOps, hybrid this and hybrid that. But there are a few certainties in the IT universe and one of them is that IT doesn’t function if all of the pieces can’t talk to one another, and that means the network needs to be rock solid. Some of that is under the control of enterprise IT teams as internal network infrastructure, but some of it isn’t, such as WAN or Internet. Because connectivity is so essential, no one questions the need for making sure the network is healthy and operational at all times, and that its role is assured in the grand scheme of IT.

This is where Enterprise Network Availability Monitoring Systems (ENAMS) come into play. ENAMS are software products that are used by network operators and managers to keep a constant watch over their networks.”  (Click here to read the rest of Jim’s post about network management).

For a free copy of the EMA Radar for Enterprise Network Availability Monitoring System (ENAMS) Report featuring Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold, please click here.

 

By Daniel Okine

As you’ve likely already heard on Sept 24th a new computer security threat called Shellshock was identified and entered into the National Vulnerability Database as CVE-2014-7169.

The Shellshock vulnerability does not affect any Ipswitch products.

Shellshock

Shellshock is a bug in the widely-used Bash shell, the Unix command-line shell that has been around for 20 years. Shellshock affects almost all Linux, UNIX, and Mac OS X operating systems and the US-CERT has given the flaw the maximum CVSS rating of 10/10/10 for severity, impact and exploitability.

Security is a top priority at Ipswitch and we assessed our products as soon as we became aware of this threat. We have since determined that all supported versions of the Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold network and server performance monitoring suite are not affected by the Shellshock bug.

We strongly recommend you follow the advisories of your respective Operating System provider.

By Ennio Carboni

Our Hero, the SysAdmin

Our Hero, the SysAdmin

In honor of today’s 15th annual System Administrator Appreciation Day, also known as SysAdmin Day, we have revealed the findings from the latest version of our annual Red Shirt Survey. The results highlight that IT network professionals are working harder than ever, but are still feeling underappreciated – and they suffer from a general lack of respect within their organization.

More than 250 SysAdmins in the U.S. took our survey over the first 9 days of this month. Results show us that SysAdmins aren’t looking for grand gestures. Just a genuine “thank you” will usually do. Or just reboot your machine before hitting the panic button to alert IT. Here are some interesting highlights from the SysAdmin survey:

  • When we asked what would make them happier at work, more than 42 percent would like more appreciation for his or her hard work from colleagues (aka users), up five percent over last year’s survey.  Just over a third (36 percent) would like users to reboot their machines before asking for help.
  • SysAdmins also feel like they are spending way too much time reacting to problems on their IT networks. One out of every two SysAdmins (50 percent) spends between 40-60 percent of their time reacting to network or user problems, an increase of more than 10 percent from last year. Nearly one in six (17 percent) indicated that they spend a whopping 60-80 percent of their time dealing with frustrations on their networks.
  • We found that more than a third (36 percent) of SysAdmins simply want the recognition of having a tough job, nearly double from last year’s survey, while 34 percent would like x-ray vision to figure out the source of a problem on a network, up six percent from last year. And if that’s not possible, half of them would just be happy with users chilling out on the streaming.
  • One in two SysAdmins (50 percent) noted that video platforms like YouTube or Vimeo are the biggest culprits when it comes to bandwidth hoarding.
Ipswitch SysAdmin Day Survey Infographic (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Ipswitch SysAdmin Day Survey Infographic (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

We hope these findings will lead to more appreciation for the dedicated SysAdmins and other IT pros who work day and night to keep our networks and applications humming along. These IT heroes work hard to equip their colleagues with the technology and support they need to innovate, collaborate and do their jobs. That is a lot of pressure to work under.

So when you see one of your SysAdmin colleagues today – or any day for that matter – a simple ‘thank you for everything you do’ will go a long way.

 

By Ennio Carboni

Since the World Cup first kicked-off back on June 12th, we have been covering its impact on application performance and business operations. We asked: would an increase in streaming of the world’s most watched event have an adverse effect on application performance? Now that the Cup is over and Germany beat out Argentina, yes, we can say that network and application performance suffered over the past month. Blame it on Rio.    Blame it on Rio

From the start, it was clear that high viewership numbers would present challenges for IT departments. FIFA reported record numbers of viewers the world over had tuned in during the earlier group stages of the World Cup, with a notable increase in viewers in the United States compared with previous years. According to Forbes, ESPN reported that total average viewership throughout the World Cup was at 56.57 million, with each match involving Team USA garnering an average viewership of 14.14 million. In fact, the USA-Portugal match was the most watched football match ever on US TV – 24.7 million viewers via ESPN and UNIVISION combined – higher than any past NBA Finals game and better than the average viewership of games during the 2013 World Series.

Such high levels of interest from the start suggested that employees would surely be streaming the matches during work hours. This would consume a lot of wireless network bandwidth and stress company networks, including application performance. A report by Cisco found that video streaming and IP broadcast of the World Cup was expected to generate 4.3 exabytes of Internet traffic – nearly three times Brazil’s average monthly traffic. WatchESPN got so many concurrent viewers – a record 1.7 million – that the digital edition of the game sputtered and died for several people.

In anticipation of these concerns, Ipswitch conducted a survey of more than 200 IT administrators which sought to measure the impact of the World Cup on corporate networks and application performance. The results, which confirmed our expectations, indicated the following:

  • Approximately two out of three IT admins (67 percent) experienced application performance problems and network management headaches. These could be directly tied to employees streaming the World Cup across their organization’s wireless network.
  • Of those, 70 percent said that the video streaming of matches had an adverse effect in several areas. Including employee productivity, network and application performance and business operations.
  • Desktop and laptop computers were the most common devices used by employees to stream World Cup matches at nearly 90 percent. Smartphones were not far behind at 83 percent, with tablets showing less popularity at 65 percent.

In some cases, companies chose to handle the problem by playing hardball themselves. For instance, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York banned ESPN from being streamed on employee desktops and laptops because the streaming was causing bandwidth problems at the bank. This proved to be only a temporary fix: employees simply shifted their viewing to Univision.

World Cup viewership continued to break records globally and according to published reports, estimates were that more than one billion viewers would tune into Sunday’s finale. The saving grace for IT being that this was taking place on a non-work day for most organizations.

While the World Cup 2014 is over, it has taught us some valuable lessons along the way. Planning for large scale media events is now a part of the IT puzzle and the ability to anticipate bandwidth spikes that can harm core business functions need to be accounted for. Before the next World Cup we’ll see two more Olympic Games, a new United States President and several other global sporting events. It will be interesting to see if these lessons are applied or if we are doomed to keep repeating our mistakes.

Managing Wireless Bandwidth and Network Traffic Flow

We’d like to help provide guidance on how to manage wireless bandwidth and network traffic flow to optimize application performance. In particular, this Weds, July 16, we will host a webinar that covers:

  • Discovering who consumes bandwidth
  • Monitoring access point health
  • Avoiding access point over-subscription

When: Wednesday, July 16 9 a.m. EDT and 11am EDT

How to register:

 

By Ennio Carboni

Just after the first matches got underway for the 2014 World Cup we put a survey into the field. We wanted to measure the impact the world’s most popular sporting event was having on corporate networks. And whether IT managers and network administrators had heeded the lessons learned from past events to better prepare this time around. With the increased popularity of the World Cup and soccer in general, we were confident there would be a noticeable impact. The majority of World Cup matches would coincide with the heart of the work day here in the United States. And there was wide-spread concern that workers would be streaming matches in record numbers. This would, in effect, adversely affect business operations.   Ball through monitor

Upon completion of the survey our predictions and concerned turned out to be valid. We heard from more than 200 IT administrators and other professionals in the U.S. Among them, approximately two out of three (67 percent) noted that they are currently experiencing IT problems that can be directly tied to employees streaming the World Cup. Even the Wall Street Journal recently reported on network problems due to World Cup streaming.

As to the question of whether they were better prepared based on recent large events, the results were somewhat disappointing. Our survey revealed that only slightly more than half of respondents (53 percent) had a plan in place to deal with the bandwidth spikes caused the World Cup. When plans were in place, most were focused on limiting streaming activity. Setting threshold alarms was the most common with 71 percent of respondents. While monitoring top applications and blocking certain websites received nearly 60 percent each.

Only 32 percent of respondents indicated that they were offsetting World Cup traffic by establishing centralized locations for employees to watch the action. Access was provided via both television and common streaming devices.

We’d love to hear how the World Cup has affected your work lives. Based on our survey results, it looks like it’s been a tough game.  

By Ennio Carboni

Many cash-strapped UK government bodies are spending on network management tools offering features that they either don’t need, or will never use. And they appear unable to easily gather fundamental data about the growing number of devices on their network. UK Flag

How do we know this? We made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in the UK some months ago and surveyed 634 public sector organizations. We asked about their use of network management and network monitoring tools to manage present and future challenges. These organizations included local authorities, government departments, NHS trusts and universities.

What we found was a general lack of attention paid upon network management and application performance management. Case in point:

  • Even though the vast majority (93 percent) have invested in network management tools, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) cannot distinguish between wired and wireless devices on their network
  • The majority (87 percent) cited network performance as a key priority but less than a quarter (23 percent) bothers to review network performance regularly during office hours.
  • Additionally, just over a third (34 percent) review network performance on a weekly basis or less frequently while one in eight (12 percent) admit to not reviewing network performance at all

This is a perfect storm of device overload and application performance problems that they’ll struggle to manage. Government bodies in the UK should ask themselves what they really need to understand about their network, and ensure they’re using a solution closely aligned to this need.

Public sector organizations, including U.S. Federal agencies, can take control of their networks with a comprehensive, automated network monitoring solution run from a single dashboard. Empowered with this technology, IT professionals within any government organization can:

  • Respond to network problems before users notice, and keep critical systems operational
  • Discover and map an entire civilian or military IT infrastructure (Layer 2/3)
  • Receive network alerts when unauthorized changes are uncovered or when performance falls below preset service levels

 

 

By Steve Hess

openssl-logo-300x81As you may already know, there was a recent Security Advisory about new vulnerabilities in OpenSSL released in early June. This specific flaw requires a vulnerable OpenSSL library active on both the client and server ends of the transaction. The flaw allows a savvy attacker to sit between the client and server and turn off encryption, silently exposing information exchanged between those two end points. Technologies that only use OpenSSL to accept web-browser (HTTPS) connections will be vulnerable to this flaw only when the browser is using a vulnerable version of OpenSSL. Chrome for Android is the only major browser that is currently susceptible.

Security is a top priority for Ipswitch and our customers. Since this announcement, the Ipswitch Security Team has been working to determine the impact and issue patch fixes where vulnerabilities were found.

Impacted Ipswitch products include:

  • MOVEit Mobile & Cloud
  • WS_FTP Client & Server
  • MessageWay
  • IMail
  • WhatsUpGold

Through your Customer Portal you’ll be able to access instructions to properly implement the Security Update for impacted versions as available.

As with any security advisory, we understand that our customers may have additional concerns. If you should have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to the appropriate technical support team:

By Ennio Carboni

Ratings for the 2014 World Cup are beginning to surpass even the most optimistic television executive’s expectations. With the drama unfolding further after every match, viewers are tuning in with record numbers. While this is proving great for television, it is creating obstacles for organizations and their networks. One of the biggest issues facing IT pros is the bring your own device (BYOD) population. iStock_000041710126Medium

The average worker brings with them to the office each day two or more personal devices connected to the corporate network – each of which can be used for streaming World Cup matches. When you have a high-interest match such as the United States vs. Germany set to begin airing at noon ET on Thursday, this creates a situation where streaming is sure to surge resulting in large-scale bandwidth drain.

So the question becomes, how do those charged with network performance account for the sudden spike in usage caused by workers personal devices? There are several options that can help the IT manager limit or even eliminate these spikes.

  1. Substitutions – create alternative viewing options for employees that don’t require them to stream the game through their personal devices. Options could include setting up television viewing stations in break rooms, cafeterias, etc.
  2. Yellow Card – issue a warning to the BYOD crowd that bandwidth limits are being set for streaming and if it crosses a certain threshold, it will be shut down and the stream cut. This ensures that the organization will have sufficient bandwidth remaining to complete critical job functions.
  3. Red Card – block the ability to stream the match completely. While this is sure to illicit a number of complaints from your organizations diehard soccer fans and bandwagon jumpers alike, it is a surefire way to ensure that valuable bandwidth is not consumed for non-work activities and is available for critical business applications.

Depending on your organization and market, bandwidth spikes can have differing effects. It is important to understand patterns of usage and how streaming can affect business operations. Having a firm grasp on the demands of your network will ensure that business isn’t shut out by the World Cup.

 

By Ennio Carboni

Part II of our World Cup series looks at the impact of streaming media on your network and how the decline of television viewership is actually creating bandwidth problems for the enterprise.

TV viewership is on the decline. Yes really, you read that correctly. However, that should not be confused with a decline in media viewing which is actually on the rise. The reality is that more people than ever are streaming video via the Internet rather than getting it through more traditional cable companies.

Bloomberg reported in March of 2014 that the number of Americans who pay for TV through cable, satellite or fiber services fell by more than a quarter of a million in 2013, the first full-year decline, according to research firm SNL Kagan. If the slide continues in the coming years, that means 2012 was the industry’s high point.

world_cup_2014It’s not that viewers are watching less video. Online-streaming services from Netflix and Amazon.com continue to draw more users with shows like “House of Cards,” charging fees of less than $10 a month. What’s changed is that fewer people are willing to shell out $40 a month or more for the wider menu of cable channels. There is a whole new generation of media viewer emerging, commonly referred to as “cord nevers” that are changing the media landscape and the way we think about delivering entertainment. While television remains the dominant entity, it is losing its grip, creating a problem across the networked landscape.

According to an article in re/code last month, Sandvine, the broadband networking company that provides periodic reports on Web usage, says that the top 15 percent of streaming video users go through 212 gigabytes of data month. That’s more than seven times the average broadband user, who uses 29 gigabytes.

When you mix the bandwidth suck created by wide-spread streaming media with the world’s most watched event, you can anticipate that network problems are not only likely, but a near certainty. Factor in the number of networked devices being carried by the average employee and the World Cup has the potential to wreak havoc on your network and slow productivity. That is why it will be critical during the next several weeks of the World Cup for IT to be constantly monitoring network and application performance to ensure it is not adversely effected by employees streaming matches live.

Don’t let unattended streaming kick your network into submission!