Ipswitch, Inc., headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, develops and markets software products and services for businesses worldwide. The company began in 1991, and claims over 100 million people in over 60 countries use its software to optimize their networks. The company now has three divisions: network monitoring with the WhatsUp Gold product line, file transfer over the Internet using the WS_FTP and MOVEit software packages, and messaging using the IMail Server product. The company currently has 175 employees, and research and development centers in Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia. Its products are sold directly to end users, via its online shop, and through distributors, resellers and OEMs in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. The company also has a very unique commitment to community involvement, as it donates five percent of its profits to community investment programs, community service and philanthropy.
Ipswitch's network management line is named WhatsUp Gold, which is installed on hardware running Windows desktop or server operating systems with Windows XP Professional SP2 (or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2 (or later), Windows Vista Ultimate (Windows Vista SP1 recommended), Windows Vista Business (Windows Vista SP1 recommended), or Windows Server 2008. The system provides solutions that support both single and multi-site enterprise infrastructures, including both LAN and WAN environments (see Figure 1) It is available in four different editions:
Standard edition: the benchmark monitoring solution provides an inexpensive single network infrastructure monitoring capability for small and mid-sized businesses. This version includes a powerful alert management platform that features easy-to-use alarms, alerts and notification capabilities for real-time operations support.
Premium edition: provides a network management and application monitoring solution for single networks of all sizes that installs, discovers and maps network connected assets in minutes. This product leverages SNMP v1-3 and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), to enable predictive monitoring in combination with powerful alerting and notification capabilities.
Distributed edition: extends the features of the Premium edition to provide secure connectivity between a central network operations center (NOC) and any number of remote sites, no matter where they are located, and is designed for distributed environments and larger enterprises.
MSP edition: is a complete solution for managed service providers (MSPs) to monitor any number of customer networks from a single central NOC site, providing a complete picture of each customer network in separate and secure customized workspaces in real-time.
The product is designed with a modular framework that provides a core set of common services. That architecture includes control functions at the lowest layer, such as interfaces for both IPv4 and IPv6, a polling engine plus events monitor and collector; intelligence functions at the mid layer, that provide the management, monitoring, alerting and reporting structure; visibility functions that include the Windows console, alerts, notifications and reporting capabilities; plus plug-in modules that handle specific tasks.
The NetFlow Monitor Module collects raw network traffic from NetFlow-enabled switches and routers, and provides in-depth insight into how the network is performing. This module gathers, analyzes and reports on network traffic patterns and bandwidth utilization in real-time. It highlights the overall utilization for the LAN or WAN, utilization for specific devices or interfaces, and also indicates users, applications and protocols that are consuming abnormal amounts of bandwidth (see Figure 2). It can also track changes, and review how traffic patterns have changed over time, to better understand the impact of routing, firewall, or other configuration changes.
The VoIP Monitor Module is designed to monitor and report on the network's capacity to support and maintain acceptable VoIP call quality on both local and wide area networks. This module addresses three general areas: SNMP and WMI based management and monitoring, performance and QoS monitoring, and network mapping. The module accesses information generated by Cisco IP service level agreement (SLA)-enabled devices to monitor parameters essential to VoIP performance.
The WhatsConnected Module is a layer 2 and layer 3 network discovery and network mapping plug-in that depicts and visualizes device connectivity down to the individual port. This module locates all devices on the network, including critical device connectivity and interdependencies, and also provides a detailed hardware inventory and configuration information. This plug-in also provides discovery and visualization of the network topology, including inventory, configuration and mapping displays. Supported networking products includes those developed by Alcatel, Allied Telesyn, Cisco/Linksys, DLink, Hewlett-Packard, Netgear, Nortel/Bay Networks, 3COM, Dell, and others.
WhatsUp Gold enables predictive monitoring in combination with powerful alerting and notification capabilities to keep the network and application infrastructures running, and the network manager informed in real-time when issues arise. Intuitive web-enabled workspace views and dashboards (see Figure 3) guarantee quick navigation to alerts and issues in real-time, plus access to over 200 reports, documenting all device, bandwidth and application related activity.
Further details on IPSwitch's network management solutions can be found at http://www.ipswitch.com/. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' network management architectures.
Copyright Acknowledgement: ©2009 DigiNet Corporation, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.