As President of Ipswitch Inc.’s Network Management division I have had the opportunity to speak with many of our customers about their experience using WhatsUp Gold.

Now, because WhatsUp Gold can be deployed and utilized in a variety of ways, each new story I hear varies from the last. But I have noticed a few common themes over the years. One such theme sounds like this:

“The phones stopped ringing as soon as it was deployed on the network.”

In fact, a few weeks ago I had a new customer call up our sales team and rave about the silence he and his team have enjoyed since they implemented WhatsUp Gold on their network. No more phone calls about the network being slow, that this server is down, that the Internet isn’t connecting, etc.

Because of the powerful systems and performance monitoring WhatsUp Gold delivers, these guys are finally the first to know when something is wrong on their network. They can now fix an issue before it affects their users.careerbuilderweb

This latest customer interaction reminded me of our history with job-search-giant, CareerBuilder. As a longtime user of WhatsUp Gold solutions, our product has literally grown along with CareerBuilder’s company.

In its early stages in 2003, at a point when the job search site was just one-fifth the size of the market leader, they brought in WhatsGold to solve their basic monitoring needs. As they’ve grown and matured, becoming the nation’s largest online job site, WhatsUp Gold has stayed a step ahead to continue to provide them the tool-set and functionality they need to manage a network that now includes close to 1300 devices.

Despite the evolution of technology and the increasing complexity of networks and managing solutions, we know that with most of our customers it is still the little things that make such a big difference. Mark Fouraker, Technologist at CareerBuilder, touches on just that in a favorite quote of mine from this customer story:

“My favorite story about WhatsUp Gold is when I was in an important meeting and was getting silent alerts on my pager about an impending issue on our network. I was sneaking out at breaks to troubleshoot and address the matter, eventually resolving it. The bottom line is that no one outside of a few people in operations had any idea there was even an issue at all. It’s just a beautiful product.”

A story like this is really powerful, in my opinion, because it shows how technology can evolve and customer needs can change, forcing us to continually adapt and innovate our product to meet those changing needs. It also shows that business relationships can certainly last as long as it remains mutually beneficial, with a bit of give and take from both sides.

Network Computing AwardsThe fourth annual Network Computing Awards held their awards ceremony last night at a black tie event under the shadow of London’s famous Tower Bridge. WhatsUp Gold was nominated in four categories so naturally we were all anxiously waiting for news of any results!

We were thrilled to find out that WhatsUp Gold had won the Network Management Product of the Year award. We received the news right away, thanks to our representitive who attended the ceremony in our honor. Here’s a quick recap of the night:

With high hopes of taking home some hardware, we sent Martin Brindley, our account rep at DMG Europe, to represent the Ipswitch Network Management Division. Armed with his smartphone in hand, Martin set out to keep us updated in real-time by tweeting throughout the night. Early on we knew he was the right person to represent us at the ceremony as we noticed his first tweet of the night:

@martinbrindley: On my way to network computing awards, if you fancy meeting up I’ll be the one in the dinner jacket and black tie

Dressed to impress and representing WUG to the best of his ability, Martin settled in at his table as they began announcing winners and handing out awards.

@martinbrindley: Congrats to extreme networks for wireless product of the year
@martinbrindley: Congrats to netscout for data centre product of year

Some anxious moments followed as Martin watched some of the awards that WUG was in the running for go to our competitors. Things were starting to look grim for WhatsUp Gold and it seemed we might be shut out at the Network Computing Awards for the third straight year.

But just as Martin started to worry that the acceptance speach he prepared might go to waste, WUG’s big moment came as they announced the big award.

@martinbrindley: Congrats to ipswitch for network management product of the year!

His tweet was simple and understated, yet the message was clear. This was a very big moment for the entire Ipswitch Network Management division as everyone’s hard work from the past year had been validated and paid off with this great award.

We will enjoy the sweet taste of victory for a bit, but won’t let it go to our heads as we get right back to work in what will be a busy but very exciting 2010 for Ipswitch Network Management!

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One of the hot debates among cloud watchers has been whether cloud vendors will someday federate and provide transparent services across continental boundaries. Microsoft provided an interesting twist to this debate just before the RSA Conference kicked off here in San Francisco.

As noted by Gavin Clark in The Register:
“Among the features (in Microsoft’s latest U.S. government cloud offerings) are secured and separate hosting facilities access, to which is restricted to a small number of US citizens who have cleared rigorous background checks under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).”

In other words, Microsoft has defined a large private cloud segment that will never span political boundaries.   However, not every Federal process must comply with ITAR or even the higher levels of FISMA.  It will be interesting to see whether other cloud vendors follow suit with their own private offerings or if private government clouds restricted to and maintained in a single country are just a niche.

Greetings from tradeshow floor at RSA Conference.  Over the last few days I’ve had the pleasure of talking with a dozen or so existing Ipswitch File Transfer customers that stopped by our booth at the RSA Conference.

It’s always a great learning experience to hear the details of how our solutions are being used… Not to mention the inevitable “I wish you could solve this other problem that I’m having”.

Often times that request involves a new capability that’s on our roadmap for an upcoming release.  However, it’s notable that the most common request has been for a capability we already have.

All those conversations went something like this:  “Ipswitch is great for server-based file and data transfers… But what about person-to-person file sharing?” Some customers want an Outlook plug-in, some prefer a browser interface, and it’s unanimous that the solution must be easy for their end users.

Everyone was pleased to learn that we solve that problem today with our Ad Hoc Transfer module for WS_FTP Server (And the MOVEit DMZ version will be available very very very soon).

Best three questions from floor of RSA Conference today (Tuesday, March 2, 2010):

1) What are you doing about federated authentication? (state government)

Answer: We’re looking at it.  Our products already offer extensive support for LDAP, RADIUS, ODBC and other external authentication sources, and single-signon solutions for CA Siteminder and most SSL client certificates (e.g., Entrust, etc.).  Federated authentication is the next big authentication set ahead of us and will likely have ramifications for both our on-premises and hosted solutions.

2) How is your SSH support more appropriate for a company under SarBox than the OpenSSH deployments I have all over my network?  (financial clearinghouse)

Answer: Do you have your SSH servers configured to deliver you the auditing information you need?  (No.)  Are you able to distinguish individual users by the SSH keys they are providing?  (No.)   Do you believe you’re out of SarBox compliance today?  (Absolutely.)   Our products offer a complete solution to both these critical SarBox needs.  We provide comprehensive, tamper-evident logging (even of administrative actions) to DB, Event Logs and SysLog (your choice).  We can also enforce the use of usernames, passwords and keys on particular users, and you can prove through our audit logs which keys are and were in use by each user.

3) I thought Ipswitch (WS_FTP) would be dead after the world jumped to broadband.  What happened?

The world didn’t quit sending files – instead it sends larger files and now worries more than ever about who, exactly got what and when.  In other words, the technical challenges evolved and governance became much more of an issue.  Solving the technical, security, visibility challenges of file transfer – of both ad hoc and prearranged interactions – in a way that both users and administrators find easy is why Ipswitch, including WS_FTP, is growing and thriving.

I got into the RSA conference here in San Francisco last night and got a surprisingly lightweight name tag.  Usually, there is a pretty little green “(ISC)2” ribbon at the bottom of the tag, but this year the RSA organizers ran out!

This is good news for the security profession and the education/certification programs run by (ISC)2, SANS and others.   Security remains a important topic at all levels of IT and these programs help all practitioners speak a common language.

sony-playstation-3I had a few free hours yesterday afternoon inbetween Sunday obligations so I did what many people do when blessed with extra time; I powered on my gaming console and sank into my couch for a quick game or two.

I’ve been trying to wean myself from my “Little Big Planet” so I thought I’d download “Heavy Rain,” just to see what all the hype was about.

Unfortunately for me my gaming console of choice is PlayStation 3. (Don’t think I don’t hear you Xbox fanatics chuckling to yourselves that owning a PS3 is indeed unfortunate, but let’s save that argument for another post.)

Instead of “Heavy Rain,” I received this message:

8001050F Registration of the trophy information could not be completed. The game will now quit.

I tried three more times before I broke out my computer and did a quick Google search to see what the heck was going on. It didn’t take long for me to find other users experiencing the same frustration.

It was official; the PlayStation Network was down.  Network outage. Bummer.

And the outage seemed to be only effecting the older versions of PS3. Meaning Double Bummer for me. I don’t yet own one those new “slim” PS3 models.

Sony acknowledged the technical issue on their blog Sunday night and said it was working on a fix.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, and genuinely appreciate your patience while we work to resolve this,” Sony social media manager Jeff Rubenstein posted on the PlayStation blog.

I wondered what, if anything, they use to monitor their network. I wondered if they had deployed WhatsUp Gold on the PS3 network whether or not I’d be sitting on my couch wondering what to do now.

I can’t help it. It’s the first thing I think about in these situations. I thought about the flood of phone calls those in charge of PSN must be drowning in at that moment.

In this world where nearly everything happens online network management software is no longer a Nice to Have. It is definitely a Need to Have.

If PSN does not have a Network Management solution in place I’m willing to bet they will have one in the very near future.

In the meantime they’ve released that the source of the problem has been identified as a bug in the clock functionality incorporated in the system. Sony says it hopes to resolve the issue in the next 24 hours.

If you, like me, own an older PS3, Sony advises we keep our consoles turned off until further notice.