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Monitoring Tools Profile: WhatsUp Premium Gold

By Nelson King (Send Email)
Posted Oct 12, 2005


Ipswitch's WhatsUp Premium Gold is a bundle of monitoring capabilities essentially based on network monitoring for the 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.

SMBs looking for a server monitoring tool will find much of what they need in Ipswitch's WhatsUp Premium Gold software, an economical solution capable of monitoring a multitude of network devices and computer services.

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), in practice, WhatsUp is not intended for simultaneous monitoring of thousands of devices. Monitoring systems, like those incorporated in IBM Tivoli or BMC PATROL, are designed to manage clustered, server farm, and other complex (large scale) network configurations. WhatsUp Premium Gold operates more comfortably for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) or for departmental use with devices numbering from 50 to several hundred.

Installation of WhatsUp Premium Gold is quick and easy. The program has a relatively small footprint: 30 MB (though 100 MB is recommended) 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.

The starting point for WhatsUp is network mapping. Once the program is installed, the first important step of configuration begins with discovery of 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 result is a comprehensive graphical rendition of the network (complete with sub-networks). Another process, called SmartScan, results in showing the hierarchical dependencies in the network (e.g., which servers rely on services from other servers). The complete graphical representation of the network is then used as the means of polling and accessing the operating status for any device on the network. Configuration and maintenance of individual devices is performed through this graphical approach.

Although WhatsUp is a polling monitor (it actively polls devices for information about their status), starting in version 8.0 it is also an event monitor (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.

Management of WhatsUp monitoring can be performed 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 graphically elaborate network presentation. Web access provides remote monitoring of any device on the network. Network mapping is maintained via scheduled automatic discovery sweeps.

WhatsUp uses the Crystal Reports runtime engine to deliver extensive reporting capabilities. Reports are generated from WhatsUp logs (changes in network status, events, and polling statistics) and include performance graphs, outage reports, and statistical reporting. Reports can be created, modified, and set as recurring then scheduled 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.

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

Server Monitoring Tools Matrix
WhatsUp Premium Gold
Full Product Name WhatsUp Premium Gold
Version 8.0
Vendor Ipswitch
Description Network device monitoring software for Microsoft Windows, Exchange, and SQL servers.
Platforms Windows NT 4.0 SP6, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003
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
Both versions are licensed for an unlimited number of devices.

 
WhatsUp
Premium Gold
Product 2
Real-Time Monitoring Physical Status Temperature    
Chassis Integrity    
Power Supply    
Fan Speed    
Server Performance SNMP Monitoring Yes  
Hard Disk Utilization Yes (via SNMP)  
   - Files Open/Owner    
   - File Existence Monitor    
  - File Size Monitor (e.g. Log files)    
Memory Utilization    
CPU Utilization Yes (via SNMP)  
Cache Utilization    
Processes (Count)    
Services Monitoring DNS Yes  
HTTP/HTTPS Yes/Yes  
FTP Yes  
Telnet Yes  
NNTP Yes  
SMTP, POP3, or IMAP Yes/Yes/Yes  
Custom Port Monitoring Yes  
Server Types Supported Web    
Database Yes (MS SQL Server)  
File Yes  
Communications Yes (MS Exchange)  
Other    
Network Monitoring Network Throughput    
Current Logons    
Failover/Cluster Monitoring    
Other Network Monitoring Points SNMP Network Alerts  
Web Site Monitoring Hit Rate    
Page Content Verification    
Database Connection Verification    
Cache Rate(s)    
Security Intrusion Monitoring    
Login Error Monitoring    
Other Security Monitoring Points    
Administration Dashboard (or Other Overview Display)   Yes  
Remote or Internet Monitoring   Yes/Yes  
Monitor Views Domain Yes  
Workgroup Yes  
User-Defined Group Yes  
Alert Modes E-Mail Yes  
Phone (Land Line or Cell Phone) Yes (land line); No (cell phone)  
Pager Yes  
Network Alert Yes (WinPopup)  
SMS Yes  
Escalating Alert Levels Support   No, but does support sequenced alerts  
Alert Multiple People   Yes  
Designate by Type of Alert   Yes  
Polling/Monitoring Interval   Yes  
User Configurable Monitoring Intervals   Yes (per device)  
Corrective Action Support Machine Shutdown or Reboot    
Service Shutdown or Restart Yes/Yes  
Process Shutdown or Restart Yes/Yes  
Run Script, EXE, and Job Yes/Yes/No  
Testing Suite — Automatic Testing Support      
Historical Monitoring Logs   Yes  
Statistics   Yes  
Reporting Online Yes  
Print Yes  
Charts or Graphs Yes/Yes  
Analysis      
Other        
Other        
Other        
Other        

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