Case Studies

Flexi-Van Gains Control of Its Network with WhatsUp Gold

Facilitating on-time freight transportation from ship to rail to truck across North America, with help from WhatsUp Gold.

Flexi-Van is a leader in the intermodal transportation industry, leasing equipment that helps transport goods throughout the United States and Canada. Its more than 150,000 chassis carry shipping containers among a network of docks, railroads, and warehouses.

When Jim Mercer joined Kenilworth, New Jersey’s Flexi-Van as its Director of Information Technology in 2010, the company was running its business on an infrastructure of 45 aging servers, a small SAN, and 26 network switches, only six of which were manageable. Moreover, the staff couldn’t begin troubleshooting and resolving problems until users began to report availability or performance issues. “I knew from experience that there was a better way, and that it was possible to detect a problem before it became a service interruption,” Mercer notes.

Having used Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold in prior jobs, Mercer introduced it at Flexi-Van. The key now would be to harness WhatsUp Gold to stay ahead of performance issues that would hinder performance.

Installed and running in a half hour

Flexi-Van went on to upgrade its IT infrastructure, and it now uses WhatsUp Gold to monitor and capture performance data on its servers, switches and routers. Also it actively monitors physical ports critical to application availability. “We immediately know where an up front failure is because the problem device is pinpointed,” Mercer says.

WhatsUp Gold also streamlines IT planning. “For SANs and servers, we get a clear understanding of the use of connections, whether I/O is accelerating or stable. This gives us a head’s up on when we need to upsize infrastructure.”

WhatsUp Gold monitors one-off devices too

Flexi-Van finds that WhatsUp Gold’s easy extensibility provides great value. “Even with WhatsUp Gold’s tremendous database of supported devices, there’s always a one off device that we’ll want to monitor,” says Mercer. “With the built-in MIBs walker, it’s incredibly easy to build status monitoring for such a device.” WhatsUpGold’s alerting extensibility also gets high marks. “The ability to set up new and different levels of alerts is phenomenal. For instance, we found ourselves running low on server disk space, so we easily created a series of escalating alerts to monitor this condition over time.”

Configuration, bandwidth and connectivity issues solved with plug-ins

With network devices located nationwide, the module enables Flexi-Van to gather all configurations and highlight any changes, both of which are essential for security. WhatsConfigured also enables the IT team to refresh configurations quickly. The Flow Monitor module also tracks traffic volume. “There are usually a number of unidentified ports and protocols that — from a security perspective — are very important to be aware of. I can’t overstate the value of Flow Monitor,” says Mercer.

"WhatsConnected is another great module. As anyone who runs a network can tell you, it’s disastrous not to have an up- to-date map. Without WhatsConnected, a map would be hard to maintain because things change all the time.”

Value of a single pane of management glass

“WhatsUp Gold allows us to view every point on the network from a single pane of glass. This is very important to us. My team doesn’t have time to go from Product A to Product B to Product C to Product D to get the information they need to do their jobs.”

Jim Mercer highly recommends WhatsUp Gold to colleagues for its affordability, flexibility, and support. “In today’s IT world, cost is king, and there’s no higher cost than head count and labor. If you have solutions that require an inordinate amount of effort on the part of your staff to get up and running and to maintain, you have problems. From my perspective, WhatsUp Gold absolutely trumps the competition.” As for flexibility, Mercer says, “I can’t think of anything that WhatsUp Gold can’t do.”

The deciding factor in making his recommendation is Ipswitch’s excellent technical support. “When you pick up the phone and call Ipswitch, the folks know what they’re talking about and don’t get off the phone until you’re okay. This is priceless. My responsibility is to make sure that IT meets Flexi-Van’s strategic goals and objectives,” adds Mercer. “With WhatsUp Gold I’m better able to succeed in my mission. I highly recommend it.”

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