An Introduction to the 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring: Part 3

Over the past few weeks we’ve taking a sneak peak at our latest white paper “9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring.”

Today, we explore the final three truths in more detail.

Truth #7: Unified monitoring is essential across wired and wireless networks, physical and virtual servers, and applications.

As business relies more and more on IT to achieve success, a glitch in one area can have a ripple effect across the entire organization. No matter where the problem lies, you must be able to conclusively identify its root cause and assign responsibility for resolving it. To do this, you must have complete visibility across the whole infrastructure.  A unified monitoring solution across wired and wireless networks, physical and virtual servers and applications is essential as IT teams evolve and handle escalating IT complexity.     Ipswitch 9 Noble Truths

Truth #8: Automatic discovery and continuous dependency mapping saves time and enables you to find and fix problems faster.

Today’s networks are highly dynamic with changes constantly happening – new application deployments, new infrastructure coming online, office reallocations, mergers/ acquisitions, new dependencies among components, and so on. The ability to see and understand the relationship between devices is critical to managing your infrastructure, and to quickly be able to identify the root cause of problems. How can you respond rapidly to a problem when you’re chasing down false alarms? Automation ensures teams get the most meaningful alerts about the right devices at the right time. When your dependency maps are always up-to-date, your infrastructure reliability improves.

Truth #9: Simplicity and automation accelerate time-to-value

In a world of increasing complexity, IT teams need tools that solve real problems, install easily, don’t require teams of experts to configure, and deliver rapid time-to-value and ROI. As the pressure continues to mount on IT to meet availability targets, automation becomes essential as a means to understand, monitor and inform teams about the network’s makeup and potential for problems. Yet, such a tool can be powerful and flexible without being costly or complex to deploy and manage. IT teams want tools that just work – out of the box – with no fuss.

Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of our blog series and check back soon as we will be discussing the solutions to the 9 Noble Truths. In the meantime, you can download the white paper and learn:

  • The nine truths for deploying network, server and application monitoring
  • How IT teams can meet the need to thrive while doing more with less
  • How to find and fix problems before users are impacted
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An Introduction to the 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring: Part 2

In this blog series based on our white paper, “9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring,” we’ve been delving into the problems plaguing IT and describe individual paths for each solution. Here, we continue with the next three 9 Noble Truths.

Truth #4: Downtime is not an option

You can’t afford downtime in today’s non-stop world. Aberdeen Group’s research found that between June 2010 and February 2012 the cost per hour of downtime increased by 38%. As organizations continue to automate and rely on the network to get business done, the increase cost of downtime will only continue to rise. Every type of company relies on an application on a network to complete some aspect of its work process—and a stop there means a stop to business.

Truth #5: Network and application performance defines your reputation

Ipswitch 9 Noble Truths
7 Most Common Root Causes of Network Performance Issues

From the perspective of customers, partners and employees, your network is your business and your reputation is on the line every time it is accessed. Major incidents like an outage or a security breach have the power to impact reputation – and according to a recent study by IBM and Forbes, reputational damage lasts far beyond recovery times. There are no second chances when it comes to the deployment of new IT infrastructure and services. “Organizations that have capabilities for measuring quality of end-user experience are twice as likely as other companies to improve their brand reputation,” said Hyoun Park, Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group.

Truth #6: You must find and fix problems before users are impacted

IT teams shouldn’t find out that users are having problems from the helpdesk. You must be able to proactively identify and resolve issues before users report service degradations. Proactivity comes in three steps, and will be discussed in the next few weeks.

Be sure to read Part 1 of our blog series and check back soon for another peek at our 9 Noble Truths. In the meantime, you can download the white paper and learn:

  • The nine truths for deploying network, server and application monitoring
  • How IT teams can meet the need to thrive while doing more with less
  • How to find and fix problems before users are impacted
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An Introduction to the 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring: Part 1

Ipswitch 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring
New White Paper from Ipswitch

How can IT teams meet the need to thrive while dealing with an increasingly large and complex environment, constantly “doing more with less” and the requirements to deliver near-zero downtime?

In our new white paper, “9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring,” and part of an ongoing blog series, we delve into the problems plaguing IT and describe individual paths each solutions.

Let’s take a first-look at the first 3 of the 9 Noble Truths. I’ll go into more detail on each one over the coming weeks.

Truth #1: The number of devices, amount of traffic, and load on your network is exploding

As users continue to indulge in entertainment services such as YouTube, Netflix and iTunes over the corporate network, this further increases the risk of bottlenecks and slowdowns. Yet with so much business being transacted online these days, from email to file transfers to VoIP to web conferences, high-quality bandwidth is absolutely and fundamentally vital to business communication.

Truth #2: Business comes to a halt when IT infrastructure and applications perform poorly

Your IT systems are at the center of almost every customer interaction, and this trend is only increasing as organizations continue to deploy more self-service processes. It’s well known that slow transactions reduce conversion rates, and that poor service responsiveness leads to frustrated customers, disgruntled employees and poor user experiences.

Truth #3: IT complexity is growing faster than your IT team

As CIO.com put it: Managing an IT project is like juggling chunks of Jell-O. Information technology is especially slippery because it’s always moving, changing, adapting and challenging business, as we know it. Factors contributing to the mounting complexity of IT include BYOD/ consumerization of IT and regulatory demands

The challenge facing IT teams is how to thrive in a world where complexity and risks in your IT environment are almost certainly growing faster than your IT team.

Be sure to check back in on Tuesday for another peek at 9 Noble Truths. In the meantime, you can download the white paper here and learn:

  • The nine truths for deploying network, server and application monitoring
  • How IT teams can meet the need to thrive while doing more with less
  • How to find and fix problems before users are impacted
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Overcome Challenges of Campus Wireless Network Performance

A university network supports a broad population of students, faculty and others who all rely on a wireless network to do their work. Consider the user population. A big segment of it grew up with the Internet. And they have little patience for dead spots that don’t provide access to it.

A customer of ours works at a large university in Ohio. There are no less than 2,700 access points on his wireless network. Before he started using WhatsUp Gold from Ipswitch, his team had to physically check wireless network equipment around campus whenever there was a problem. It was wearing patience his patience thin. And the soles on his IT staffs’ sneakers. This meant long wait times to resolve issues, and way too many calls made and tickets opened by melodramatic students. student_hero20110208

The challenge was to support a group of vocal users who, in some respects, were causing the problems they complained about. There’s an average of three mobile devices per student attached to the network. Vimeo, torrents, and every other bandwidth hog you can imagine steams through the pipes. In other words, it was a BYOD free for all and the IT staff had to keep Internet wireless network connections going strong in light of the chaos.

When our customer decided enough was enough he looked for a product that provided the wireless network performance monitoring features he needed most, and it had to be affordable. He wanted a the ability to accurately map his wireless network, see individual bandwidth usage, check signal strength, and get real-time alerts whenever a problem flared up. After giving WhatsUp Gold a trial run along with a few other vendors’ software products, he chose Ipswitch because it met his criteria and his price point. Since using the product, the phone rings a lot less and sneakers last a lot longer.

If your work involves managing wireless access on a network in higher education, or anywhere else for that matter, please register and join our webinar this Thursday, February 6. During the 30 minute webinar you’ll learn how to best manage the high traffic tides, quickly and easily identify bandwidth hogs and the offending applications, and receive notifications when access points approach capacity.

Hope to see you there. If you can’t make it, we’ll be sharing the replay afterwards.

Title: How to Overcome Challenges of Campus Wireless Network Performance
Date:
February 6, 2014
Show Time: 2:00 pm EST
Duration: 30 Minutes
Register Here

 

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Italian Manufacturer Gears Up with WhatsUp Gold

When the IT Administrator at an Italian manufacturing company started his job, the IT team was manually monitoring the network on a problem-by-problem basis. It was a understandable drain on resources. And was also affecting the quality of service provided to their business users.

His team set about looking for a proactive network monitoring tool. After looking at a few options they tried out WhatsUp Gold from Ipswitch.

WhatsUp Gold

It Takes Two

High up on the list of important things to monitor were two applications they needed to be sure were running optimally. Namely,  their document management system and SAP. If these two were not in synch the IT team would suffer the wrath of unhappy users. Manually monitoring for problems after they started affecting application performance was not going to cut it.

The company’s network uses a data exchange service that transfers digital documents from their SAP system to their document management system. If the service between the two applications stops or disk space runs out, the documents don’t move. If they don’t move, users won’t have access to the latest information.

Putting this worry to rest, WhatsUp Gold lets the IT team monitor both the service and the disk space. This ensures the documents are immediately and consistently available to business users.

“An increase in server availability and uptime reduces the cost of doing business because our users are always productive,” said the IT administrator.

Interested to see what WhatsUp Gold could do to keep your big applications humming along? Download a free trial and give it a whirl for 30 days.

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WhatsUp Gold Boosts Security for Southern US City School District

A major southern US city school district with more than 40,000 students reached out to the Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold team for help after a failed attempt to implement another company’s network monitoring software. Increased security concerns were driving the school system to increase investment in building and campus safety precautions. But the monitoring software wasn’t cooperating.

In testing the other company’s software, they found it:

  • Didn’t have the Level 2/3 discovery granularity. This was required to identify and monitor everything from servers to applications, to component-level information in servers. As well as switches and other devices like security cameras.
  • Couldn’t create a complete map of a network of schools stretching across the city. That would make it hard to determine what was new new and what was old so they could upgrade efficiently.
  • Couldn’t identify or monitor many SNMP-addressable devices already in place. Devices like metal detectors and the security cameras. Because it didn’t have MIBs for them in its library of devices.

CaptureddBut each area the IT director found fault with could be remedied with WhatsUp Gold, the director was promised by an Ipswitch sales engineer. “I was told it wouldn’t take more an hour,” she said. Skeptical, but intrigued, the director took the plunge and downloaded the software. Less than an hour later she was pleasantly surprised to have in hand a complete map and a detailed inventory of all the devices making up the city’s widely distributed network of schools.

Peace of Mind

Now the school district had the information they needed determine what they could keep and what they’d have to replace. This allowed them to enhance student and staff security and control vandalism of school properties. Unlike the other software, WhatsUp Gold allows administrators to add MIBs for devices not already in WhatsUp Gold’s library in just minutes.

Once the first wave of safety improvements was in place, the IT director used WhatsUp Gold to monitor the health of all the network devices. They were able to take action quickly if WhatsUp Gold detected a problem with any device. For instance, one of the high school’s metal detectors went off line late one afternoon. An automated alert and an intuitive trouble-shooting interface allowed the staff to identify the root cause in minutes and reset the system.  

“The major benefits of using WhatsUp Gold include increased peace of mind, a reduced administrative workload and higher device service levels,” the director reports.

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Two Businesses Merge and Save 35% on Network Monitoring

Two regional auto parts companies merged to increase their competitiveness with national chains. But they almost immediately ran into an unexpected network monitoring problem. The IT manager tasked with consolidating the two companies’ network infrastructures found that neither company’s network monitoring products had Layer 2 and Layer 3 discovery capabilities. This would give them enough detail to determine what devices to keep and which to upgrade and force them to spend more than they had budgeted for the project.

network monitoringThe only answer was to be a lot more selective about purchasing new gear. But his existing Layer 2 discovery software was no help. It didn’t gather enough detail on existing gear and utilization levels. This could help him decide what to keep and what to toss. He couldn’t afford to travel offsite to gather the additional information. Could Ipswitch help, he asked?

“Based on what you told me, you won’t need to travel anywhere,” the Ipswitch sales engineer said. Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold network monitoring software, combined with a WhatsConnected network mapping and topology software plugin, would give him the additional information he needed without having to leave his office.

It offers:

  • Full integration of automated Layer 2 and Layer 3 topology discovery and visualization
  • Rich mapping
  • Automated discovery of full port-to-port connectivity on networks of all sizes, regardless of location

Skeptical, the manager downloaded a trial copy of WhatsUp Gold network monitoring software and the WhatsConnected plugin suggested by the Ipswitch sales engineer. A few days later, he conducted a successful test audit of his data center’s network. With complete with Layer 2 and Layer 3 details on every network device in hand, he bought the products. Ipswitch had also uncovered underused resources he could reconfigure for higher efficiency. Based on these results, he was sure he could find similar savings throughout the various sites slated for modernization.

Not long after, the manager reported to us that his staff completed the upgrade successfully and on budget. They had been able to recycle and repurpose a good amount of their network inventory. This helped them pay for new routers, switches and firewalls needed for the combined networks to operate under a single WhatsUp Gold user interface.

As a nice side benefit, they were able to reduce the cost of network monitoring over the combined network by 35%.

 

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WhatsUp Gold 16.2, Network Monitoring that Makes Your Job Easier

IPS WUG LOGOToday we are glad to announce the availability of WhatsUp Gold version 16.2, a new upgrade to our flagship product that provides network, server and application monitoring. It helps make our customers’ jobs a lot easier to do while they work hard to manage and tame networks at companies and government organizations around the world.

Before I continue to share how our customers’ use the product, here’s what’s new in Version 16.2:

  • Integration with wireless network technologies from Meru Networks and Ruckus, Cisco WAP321 wireless access points and Cisco Nexus data center switches
  • Added seed discovery for the IPv6 protocol
  • Other updated discovery and monitoring features (I’ll spare you from reading through the rather long list)

Now back to our customers. These folks can attest to how WhatsUp Gold has helped them save a lot of time and money. And quickly pinpoint problems that are otherwise really hard to find. Here are just a handful of stories from the front lines:

Sort out the root cause of slow application performance, and save money in the process.

A customer who works at a national fast-food franchise was about to spend a lot more money to make up for lagging wireless bandwidth. The checkbook was put away after discovering the culprit was a user streaming Pandora.

Avoid buying a bunch of expensive, incompatible products –and spending money on more staff to manage them.

A customer who works at a large logistics company realized he could solve his network management issues with one product that centralized monitoring across every office. As did another customer who works at a large bank in Europe.

Tame the BYOD chaos brought upon by folks who bring their own devices to work.

A customer who runs a large university’s network used WhatsUp Gold to fix his wireless bandwidth problems caused by BYOD. His team had been literally running around campus to troubleshoot their 2,500 wireless access points. Another customer of ours had a similar problem that was solved thanks to our unified dashboard. (Side benefit: our product can save both rubber soles and tires).

What people are saying about WhatsUp Gold version 16.2:

Matt Cline, senior systems administrator from Optim Healthcare:

The latest version of WhatsUp Gold will give me more visibility into my network and improve wireless network management through its unified dashboard. It will also help further address the challenges caused by employees who bring their own devices to work or chew bandwidth with streaming media.”

Ennio Carboni, president and general manager of the Ipswitch Network Management Division:

WhatsUp Gold provides capabilities to cost-effectively deliver diverse IT services based on their value to the business. In comparison, other so-called affordable network monitoring products don’t offer a unified view or fully encompass heterogeneous environments. Additionally, expensive, complex solutions from BMC, CA, HP and IBM  take months to implement and include features often not used.”

Care to try WhatsUp Gold in your own network environment? Download a free 30 day trial and see how it can make your job easier too.

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13 Network Nightmares That Turn Your Office into a House of Horrors

Halloween represents the time of year that we embrace ghouls and ghosts, celebrate the macabre, and eat too much candy. This coming Thursday I’ll be greeted at my front door by trick or treat’ers, lined up for their packaged sugar rushes. In between trips to the check out the little ghosts and ghouls, I’ll be watching one of my favorite horror movies. For me, being scared is part of the fun.

Click for full image.
Click for full image.

However, for sysadmins and network managers, Halloween plays itself out every day of the year. So what better time to visit the issues that turn your server rooms into your own personal house of horrors?

We know no two networks are exactly alike, so we focused on 13 network nightmares that represent the common hauntings of every server room. The number alone signifies something to be wary of. Some buildings don’t have a 13th floor. Any Friday that falls on the 13th day of the month can give even non-believers a moment of pause. These 13 network nightmares highlight the type of problems that keep many IT folks awake at night, while fearing the unspeakable network terrors that may face them at work the next day.

Even though Halloween may be a lot of fun, mention any of these 13 nightmares to a network manager and you are likely to see a look of true horror.

Here’s the fleshed-out list of network nightmares, and some tips on how they can get solved in the real world. Have an evil glance, if you like:

1.  The Zombies: Only Zombies should be slow, not your network.  Slowdowns can make it nearly impossible to keep systems and applications up and running at peak levels. With better insight, you can move fast to solve problems before they start to negatively impact business operations and users.

2.  The Vampires: Don’t let network vampires suck the life out of your wireless network. These creatures can take a bite out of network performance with the use of satellite radio and streaming video. Once you track them down, put your stake in the ground and kindly share IT policy so they can listen to Pandora back at the crypt, and not in the office.

3.  The Skeletons: Dealing with bare bones budgets is a constant problem for IT professionals, who are expected to provide higher levels of service to users, with fewer dollars. IT folks should be able to face the skeletons in their closets and monitor their networks, applications and systems affordably.

4.  The Frankensteins: A whole bunch of disjointed pieces and parts can yield monster network monitoring problems. Network administrators should not have to play the mad scientist. Trying to make the nuts and bolts and random wires of their network play nice together shouldn’t look like a scientific experiment gone wrong.

5.  The Spiked Maces: Spikes in network performance can make anyone nervous. Be prepared for high levels of traffic on days when Apple offers a download your users cannot resist. When you can be proactive, the spikes on the network won’t come swinging at you like a medieval mace.

6.  The Ghosts: What problems are haunting your network? Network administrators can be effective ghost hunters and find the spectres, including slowdowns and frightening downtime.

7.  The Chucky (Knife-Wielding Dolls): What may seem like a small threat can actually instigate big problems. What little monster is wiggling their way down into deep layers of the network to compromise security? Unchecked small problems can quickly turn into a network breach if it takes weeks before you find the culprit, especially if the problem is intermittent. Small problems are not “child’s play.”

8.  The Jasons (Scary Intruders): Don’t let software and applications lurk in the shadows. Network administrators need to know which users have downloaded unauthorized applications onto their networked laptops. Turn on the light so you don’t get lost in shadow IT.

9.  The Mummies: Are you continuously wrapped up in the same problems that keep returning? Finding the source of an issue shouldn’t be as hard as digging into an ancient Egyptian crypt.

10.  The Devils: No cost shortcuts like free open source products can tempt you with big promises, but can steal your soul if you depend on them to monitor your network. Listen to the haloed, winged creature on your other shoulder and invest in an affordable solution that gets the little devils out of the network.

11.  The Gravestones: Downtime? More like Rest-in-Panic. Finding the source of a problem on the network shouldn’t bury you  six feet deep.

12.  The Fog: When the fog sets in and bats come out to play, viewing the network can become eerie and impeded. If network administrators can’t get a complete view of their network, they won’t be able to clearly see through the fog and find the source of a slowdown or stoppage.

13.  The Werewolves: Don’t get bitten by the unexpected. Having the proper policies in place can be the silver bullet for dealing with bandwidth-hungry users.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Network Monitoring Would Have Called Out iPad Misuse in L.A. Schools

Students in 47 schools throughout Los Angeles were recently given iPads as a study tool as part of a $1B rollout to 650,000 students.  It didn’t take long at all for more than 300 students to alter basic security settings and use the iPad for anything they liked. Tweets, Facebook posts and Subway Surfers were soon competing against legit academic activities.

1527117_ME_0917_iPads_Distribution_IK
Photo source: LA Times

The security gaffe and resulting embarrassment it caused to the school’s administration could have been avoided with a network data flow monitor in place. The school system’s IT staff could have been able to determine when their configured settings were being changed — and get alerted when that happened. They’d also be able to see which students were using Facebook and other sites based on monitoring the iPad’s data flow.  

Tracking the Bandwidth Hoarders

Network monitoring of data flow would allow school IT administrators to identify “top talkers” and determine which iPads were consuming the most bandwidth as they tracked them to sites like YouTube.  Spikes in activity caused by torrent downloads are another telltale sign that wouldn’t ordinarily occur otherwise.  Network monitoring would also help track and resolve network traffic congestion by classifying the traffic by type and protocol in real time.

We Can See You

With wireless access monitoring, administrators can see who is connected to the network in real time and receive alerts when students connect to sites not approved for use in school. They can even tell from what area of the school students are accessing the network based on what wireless router they’re connecting to.  This would help ascertain whether students were consuming significant amounts of data during class time or not – and if they were surfing appropriate sites, or subways.sada

It’s not all big brother, though. Wireless network monitoring would also help the school locate an iPad if a student misplaced or lost the tablet, and it was still on school grounds.

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