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.

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.

I attended Network World in Washington D.C. last week and sat on the Network Management track industry panel. During one of the main presentations, a straw poll was taken of the audience of about 130 networking professionals about how they find out about application or IP services failures. Over 60% of the audience raised their hands when asked if the end users informed them. The response was an eye opener to a lot of people.

The days of networks as a business driver are no longer the reality. Network managers are now driven by business requirements and must ensure that the network can provide support to how rapidly the business can react and adapt to new and varying economic drivers, markets, competitors, customers and regulatory initiatives.

The network needs to be the solid foundation and you should know your networks better than your end users. The business and your livelihood depend on it.