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It doesn’t take a ninja to know that Simple Network Management Protocol allows administrators to monitor network-attached devices. With that noted, you might actually need to be a ninja to enable and configure SNMP on Windows, Linux/Unix, Cisco, and ESXi.

Have no fear. Here’s a step by step guide on how to enable and configure SNMP on Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold infrastructure monitoring software so you can administer with ease.

Windows

The first step is adding the feature (Server 2008 and above) or “Add/Remove Windows Components” (Server 2003 or below). Once the feature/component is added, open your services.msc. [Start > Run > services.msc], find the SNMP service and double-click it.

There are two important areas in the SNMP service configuration. The “Traps” tab determines where SNMP traps from the Windows host will be sent and which community name those traps will use. The “Security” tab allows you to setup your read/write community names and grant access to the WhatsUp Gold server. Once you apply your settings, restart the SNMP service for those settings to take effect. Then, you’re done.

Some interesting things I’ve stumbled upon:

Linux/Unix

On Linux/Unix, you will need to configure snmpd.conf. You can read more about it at SNMP CONFIG and SNMPD.CONF. Below is a basic sample configuration — although you can get much more complex and do a lot more with it. Once you update your /etc/snmp/snmpd.conf properly, restart snmpd:

snmp blog 1

Cisco

Configuration of SNMP on Cisco devices will vary slightly depending on the type, but in general they are nearly identical.

Here are some links to helpful Cisco documents:

ESXi

Depending on your version of ESXi, the setup steps will change. For the purpose of sanity, I have included only ESXi 5.0, 5.1+. Prior to 5.0, the steps were significantly different.

ESXi 5.0: VMware documentation

ESXi 5.1+: VMware documentation

The commands below will setup SNMP and allow it through the firewall. If you prefer, you can setup the firewall rules using the vSphere Client GUI under Configuration > Security Profile. Replace “YOUR_STRING” with your community string:

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That’s our lesson for today. Use your knowledge wisely.

Learn why SNMP is the most versatile and comprehensive protocol in your toolkit >> Read More

CTA-BANNER-SNMP

Steel is a commodity so Klein Steel knows they need to be unique to stand out in a crowded market. So they created Klein Steel Service’s Advanced Center of Excellence facility to accomplish just that.

At the facility, Klein Steel makes use of cutting-edge technology to process 12,000 tons of custom metal components. These custom components are distributed to 2,400 customers throughout the country. The company must meet strict compliance mandates set by their suppliers and customers. Due to their high demands and high-tech methods, Klein Steel, in turn, has to proactively manage all of its critical systems to get the job done right. Capture2

Yet, while it was able to maintain compliance, it still had too many trouble tickets and too much downtime that halted core operations for hours. Rob Smura, senior systems administrator of Klein Steel, knew a change was needed.

The Hazardous Steel Industry has Serious Regulatory Controls

Klein Steel is NQA1 certified, which means that is able to service oil, gas and nuclear industries. The company must strictly adhere to regulatory controls on materials, quality, handling and shipping. Maintaining this certification is vital to the entire business. Any amount of system downtime is unacceptable.

Rob is responsible for “anything that plugs into a wall and moves electrons or protons,” he said. Rob and his team have a direct impact on overall business operations, as well as ensuring that they meet NQA1 insurance audits.

When Rob stepped into his current role, he saw a great opportunity for improvement. After much research, he landed on Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold network, server, and app network performance monitoring tools.

A Unique IT Environment that Demands Constant Uptime

Klein Steel has an IT environment that transcends the usual endpoints and network management needs of many other organizations. In addition to servers and standard devices, Rob must also manage robots, lasers and high-power water jets.

CaptureThe company makes use of a Kasto inventory storage system robot picker that is integrated into an ERP system. This unique integration allows for cells and robots to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time. A systems failure in the system means that the materials being handled by the robots are completely inaccessible to the rest of the organization. Since the robots are the only way the materials can be handled, a systems failure is completely unacceptable.

Klein Steel also makes use of high-powered plasma lasers and Flowjet cutters to process custom jobs. Each of these systems can be programmed to perform the same task repeatedly. If these systems fail, the task must be handled manually and it quickly becomes labor intensive.

Additionally, system failures mean loss of important data that’s relevant to the business and maintaining compliance. Fortunately, Rob now has all of these devices monitored by WhatsUp Gold. He’s able to see the status of the Kasto robot, plasma lasers and Flowjet cutters – along with the rest of the network.

IT Challenges that Were Impacting the Entire Business

But before Rob made use of WhatsUp Gold, various IT challenges were detrimental to operations. One of the first challenges he noticed when stepping into his current role was the many trouble tickets being submitted by employees. Even if a solution just meant merging tickets, this still required an IT administrator to sort through them all.

Additionally, other challenges were causing organization-wide problems:

  • Vital systems, such as the Kasto inventory management system, were often down for upwards of 6 hours. Such extreme downtimes would result in having trucks lined up waiting for materials until the system was brought back online.
  • Errors in the Kasto system would also cause inventory to not be properly tracked. To correct these errors, employees would have to manually enter missed items – a time-intensive task.
  • Employees who operate work cells would have to call IT at all hours saying they weren’t getting new parts loaded onto the system.

Rob and his team knew that new monitoring software would reduce or entirely eliminate these challenges.

How Network Monitoring Transformed the Organization

Once Rob discovered and installed WhatsUp Gold, he started attacking all of the challenges facing the organization.

Rob used WhatsUp Gold to create a NOC VIEW that is available to every employee in the company. It showcases the complete health of the network in a web browser interface. NOC VIEW is also displayed on large screens outside of the IT area. This empowers employees to check the NOC VIEW before submitting a trouble ticket.

“My predecessor in this job had an average of 40 tickets open at any one time. That was an average ticket load in the queue,” Rob said. Now, “I’m able to be much more effective because the tickets are reduced and the tickets that we do get generated are tickets that need to have some sort of attention.”

WhatsUp Gold was also configured to monitor the Kastor robots and high-powered lasers. Alerts were created so that IT is aware of any issues before they impact business operations – and before users are even aware of them.

Long Term Successes with WhatsUp Gold

Klein Steel has enjoyed a number of long term successes since Rob installed WhatsUp Gold:

  • Systems that were once down for up to 6 hours before IT was even aware of the problem are now monitored every 2 minutes. Minor issues can be corrected before they impact the business. WhatsUp Gold is even set up to execute certain actions based on the issue, such as restarting a server or clearing the cache.
  • IT is now aware of network issues that may impact the Kastor inventory picker system, allowing employees to stop a work cell before it becomes an issue that the operator is aware of.
  • Rob and his team are able to glance at WhatsUp Gold and know that everything in the network is “green,” eliminating stress and simply making life easier.

Rob elaborates on Klein Steel’s unique needs and usage of WhatsUp Gold in his talk at Ipswitch Innovate 2015 User Summit. Watch his full presentation to discover how organizations are using WhatsUp Gold to satisfy their needs.

 

It can be pretty difficult to manage the wide array of device types that may connect to your network today. Sure, life would be great for IT if you could maintain a single vendor network, but competing factors such as best in class capabilities and BYOD make that pretty unlikely. aaa

Layer on top of that the need to stay abreast of new attached devices, deploy access devices like IP phones, design and validate VLAN policies and troubleshoot problems and life can get difficult quickly. So, a recommended best practice is to deploy network monitoring software that relies on LLDP (Link Layer Discovery Protocol).

LLDP is an IETF standard specifically designed to simplify management of multi-vendor networks. The beauty of LLDP is in how simply it works. LLDP compliant devices regularly exchange messages with neighbors that are directly connected through a physical link. The received messages are stored in a devices MIB so it can be retrieved using SNMP. This makes it pretty straightforward for your network management system to access the information it needs to maintain and up to date inventory of devices connected to the network.

Just in case you think it may not be so important, here are some of the tasks that get easier through LLDP enabled discovery:

  • Deployment of access devices like IP Phones and Wireless Access Points
  • Troubleshooting problems in network attached devices
  • Maintaining up to date inventory and topology maps
  • Implementing and validating VLAN designs
  • Segregating traffic to assure performance of priority devices like IP phones
  • Maintaining asset information like hardware & firmware revisions, serial numbers, make and model, etc. of network attached devices

Your network management system should automate many such processes for you by combining SNMP MIB that retrieve LLDP information as well as other layer 2/3 protocols. This allows you to trawl through interconnected devices to create and maintain an updated topology map. As a result, you can simplify the tasks I listed above.

>> Click here to learn about our own network management system, WhatsUp Gold.

Be sure to engage with us next month during the Ipswitch Innovate 2015 User Summit, a two-day (October 21-22) online only event for IT professionals to learn from each other, and our product experts. innovate-LI-800x800

 

 

It’s time to ask the question: Is your network monitoring software Network Admin Friendly? You may already have software in place to monitor your network, applications and servers, but the question remains, is that software actually working for youClick here to answer these five easy questions to see for yourself.

ManageYOURNetwork infographic_Matt W_aug 2015

And if you’d like to take a deeper dive into these questions about network management software, check out our recent webinar. We delve even deeper into the topic, and provide some interesting case studies on people who have made our own network management software, WhatsUp Gold, work for them.

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

 

 

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.

 

If asked to name the five most-viewed sporting events in the world, what would you say?

Perhaps The World Series, March Madness or Wimbledon?

All good guesses, but you’d be wrong in each case. Here are the top five events when it comes to attracting a media audience, with the most-viewed at the top:

  1. The World Cup
  2. The Olympic Games
  3. ICC Cricket World Cup Championship
  4. Super Bowl
  5. Monaco Grand Prix

iStock_000037172808MediumAnd while they are all on the same list, the standings aren’t even close. The World Cup is far and away the most watched sports event on the planet. Here are some interesting statistics from FIFA’s 2010 World Cup Television Audience Report.

In-home audience reach based on viewers watching at least:

  • 1+ minute of coverage: 3.2 billion representing 46% of the global population in 2010
  • 3+ consecutive minutes of coverage: 2.8 billion representing 41% of the global population in 2010
  • 20+ consecutive minutes of coverage: 2.2 billion representing 32% of the global population in 2010
  • 30+ consecutive minutes of coverage: 2.0 billion representing 29% of the global population in 2010

Think about that for a moment. Nearly half of the world’s population tuned in for at least a brief time to watch one of the 64 matches that make up the World Cup tournament. In fact, FIFA says 909.6 million television viewers watched at least one minute of the 2010 World Cup final at home between Spain and the Netherlands, and the total likely topped a billion when adding online and public screenings. One billion people for one match. Really mind boggling numbers when you consider that the highest-rated Super Bowl (a borderline national holiday in the United States) of all time, the New York Giants vs. the New England Patriots garnered 111.6 million viewers.

With the World Cup set to kick-off today, we thought it would be both an entertaining and informative exercise to look at this event and the potential it has to impact your corporate network. Over the next several weeks we’ll explore what increased viewership of this event, coupled with the increase in networked devices and availability of streaming options mean to your organization.

The world’s most popular sporting event is about to kick-off, is your network ready?

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By the time a network manager at a Midwestern U.S. non-profit organization called us for help, his 5 year-old wireless infrastructure was buckling under BYOD. Employees trying to work during lunch were complaining that their applications were slowing or even failing to operate.

AirBender-BYODHe suspected the people who were trying to work were being affected by others listening to Pandora or watching YouTube from their personal devices while having lunch. But he just didn’t the ability have to confirm it. If he couldn’t control the use of wireless bandwidth he’d have to start paying his ISP a lot more money just to keep up.

An Ipswitch sales engineer listened to his story and suggested WhatsUp Gold to monitor his network, and Flow Monitor to analyze and manage network traffic and bandwidth utilization. Less than a day after downloading the products, a sysadmin on the network manager’s team shared a graph that showed midday spikes in wireless bandwidth consumption.

The sysadmin had used WhatsUp Gold to create and enforce BYOD and wireless network policies. The product’s wireless bandwidth consumption monitor automatically alerted her if usage exceeded a certain threshold. Once alerted, it only took a few minutes to determine who was eating both their lunch and wireless bandwidth.

Later that afternoon the two reviewed an Ipswitch log manager tool to access activity during lunchtime. It showed not only identified the worst offenders, but also their wireless bandwidth-hungry sites. A quiet word with the music and video fans reduced the spikes substantially. An email to all employees that covered the organization’s wireless bandwidth policy further smoothed out the midday data crush and nixed the need to write a bigger check to the ISP.

If you need to tame the BYOD beast and the wireless bandwidth it devours, join our webinar entitled “Tips for Taming BYOD, Access Points and Bandwidth Abuse” tomorrow, November 19, at 8am US ET and 12pm US ET (a replay will be available afterwards).

 

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.

Today’s tale from the front lines of network management comes to us from an IT operations specialist who works at a British university.

mi_cerebro_es_electronico_1969His team supports a network used by more than 8,000 students, faculty and staff. His story was a long one so we’ll sum it up:

Lighting up Shadow IT: The IT operations specialist had been plagued by network and laptop issues. Students had been downloading torrent programs and other software that isn’t allowed. IT now knows who has downloaded what program and can share policy with those who skipped their class.

Keeping it cool: When there’s a power outage, a UPS system kicks in to keep the servers from frying. The IT team uses Application Performance Monitor to track the time remaining on the system so they can initiate scripts to shut down server groups based on importance and priority.

Dude, where’s my PC?: There are 350 PCs in the five story library for students to use but sometimes the students can’t find an available machine. The IT folks created custom SNMP monitors to track PC availability and display them on Layer 2 Maps. “We display these maps on TV monitors on each floor and color code the PCs as green, red or gray depending on the status.”

Get the max for the minimum: “WhatsUp Gold not only shows us the source of a network management problem so we can address it, but gave us more features than other products, at a lower price.”

 

 

 

Today’s tale from the front lines of network monitoring comes to us from an IT director for a major container transportation company. To keep the containers moving, the company has a big network of virtual and physical servers and desktops across 12 locations. The IT director was told that service levels had fallen and an overhaul of the dated network was probably necessary. disconnect1

His staff shared an 8 month-old network map that had taken 3 weeks to create manually. A quick look around the data center showed a lot of changes since the map was created. He assumed the company’s other 11 locations wouldn’t match the map either.  He started to search for a network mapping solution but all he could find were products that were either too expensive, too loaded with features he didn’t want, or required extensive training to get up and running.  

Overwhelmed, he reached out to a former colleague who recommended he try Ipswitch WhatsConnected, a Layer 2 and Layer 3 network diagram product for network discovery and network mapping.

Getting a new view of the situation

Within hours after downloading WhatsConnected, he was had an accurate discovery of his entire data center. After performing a discovery on all 11 locations he was able to quickly sort out what needed replacing. As a result, SLAs went way up, while the need for manual audits became a thing of the past.

Today’s tale from the front lines of network management comes to us from a company that’s been in business for eleven decades. They’re a logistics company with offices around the U.S. And they literally started with a horse and a cart. They have bought several companies along the way, keep their eyes on the future, and learned the value of technologies that help them grow.

Horse-Before-CartBuying other companies means buying incompatible systems that are managed with different tools. The IT team at the company decided they needed to do three things before system issues got out of hand:

  1. Choose one network management product
  2. Centralize monitoring for all locations
  3. Commit to an internal service level agreement

They agreed that the network management product they picked would have to scale for dozens of locations and hundreds of devices, handle the distributed environment, and give them the ability to be more proactive. They assumed they’d buy a solution from one of the big vendors, but, as one IT manager said, “Not only were these solutions high-priced, they required extra dedicated staff and extensive training. It was not cost effective for a company of our size.”

Then a network administrator spoke up and recommended WhatsUp Gold from Ipswitch. He had used it at his last company. According to the IT manager, “We downloaded a trial and liked it right away. We quickly saw that WhatsUp Gold could monitor what we need to monitor – it had what we needed without unnecessarily complicated features or excess cost.”

So the company that started with one horse and a cart, and grew because they knew how to look ahead, picked WhatsUp Gold. Scalable? Check. Distributed monitoring? Check. Support for proactivity? Check.

piggy_coin

Oh, and the price not only fit within the budget, they actually saved money by replacing lots of licenses for different tools with just one license for WhatsUp Gold Premium and the plug-ins they needed for managing network bandwidth, configurations and applications.

Happy? Check.

 

[Care to take our product out for a spin?]