The Werkstätten für behinderte Menschen Aurich-Wittmund (Workshops for Disabled Persons Aurich-Wittmund GmbH (WfbM)), is a modern care facility whose mission is to integrate disabled persons into the workplace. For more than fifteen years, WfbM has been helping the disabled to lead lives similar to those of non-disabled persons. To achieve this goal, WfbM provides intensive support in the form of various workshops, residence halls, a long-term facility and dedicated qualification programs. WfbM is supported by the non-profit associations “Lebenshilfe Aurich” and “Lebenshilfe Wittmund”, organizations that were initially established by the dedicated parents of special-needs children. In various fields of work such as carpentry, laundry services, large-scale kitchens, or metalworking and electronics, including laser and stamping departments, assisted persons work according to their abilities. They produce among other things small electronic components, cable harnesses or metal sheets and E-boards for switchgear cabinets. Even a supermarket is operated in its entirety by WfbM. This means that WfbM is not only a charitable institution, but also a medium- sized enterprise with hundreds of employees, numerous production facilities, and a correspondingly complex IT landscape. WfbM received the “Top Job” award in February of 2007, making it officially one of the 100 best employers among medium-sized enterprises in Germany today.
Uwe Dirks, IT system administrator at WfbM, describes the scope of his diverse IT tasks as follows: “In addition to industrial production and other skilled trades in which most of our 700 people are employed, we also have an administrative unit to oversee our mentoring and care programs, administrative duties, as well as purchasing and sales etc. All our production facilities, spread across five different sites, are WAN- connected with our computer center via dedicated lines, so the entire network is correspondingly complex.”
In addition to the physical servers in WfbM’s computer center, there are also virtualized servers administered with VMware and Hyper-V. There are no fewer than 250 user workstations available including thin clients and virtual thin clients. Uwe Dirks describes the challenge posed by such a complex IT landscape like this: “Developed, heterogeneous structures are naturally more difficult to manage than those planned carefully in advance. And since our budget comes from a non-profit organization we have to make do with less than other IT administrators might generally require.”
Because of the sprawling nature of the network, WfbM’s small, two-man IT team was faced with the challenge of maintaining a comprehensive overview of the entire network and all its individual clients. It was not only important to perform remote diagnoses, but also to ensure immediate and automatic notifications of any potential problems, and then to rectify them.
Dirks’ experience with network monitoring during his previous job was helpful: “I had already worked with WhatsUp Gold, and after starting at WfbM, I introduced the software early on with the help of our partner of many years, LargeNet GmbH in Hamburg. My goal was not so much to make sure that everything functioned properly, which would be the norm, but rather to quickly identify the root causes whenever things went wrong. Up to now we have only been using email alerts to be notified of failures. In most cases this method is sufficient to restore service, generally even before users realize that it had been interrupted.”
Karen Brandt, Key Account Manager at our partner LargeNet and IT security specialist considers the solution ideal for WfbM: “WhatsUp Gold is a very comprehensive solution offering numerous options for network monitoring. WfbM has a complex infrastructure, which requires individual solutions and corresponding depth of functionality. WhatsUp Gold proposes solutions for many of WfbM’s problems, making this product the ideal alternative to other solutions. Because of the existing expertise with WhatsUp Gold, it was possible to allay customer fears of extensive and cumbersome implementation work.”
WhatsUp Gold is an integrated and inexpensive solution for the monitoring of networks, servers, VoIP, applications, and wireless devices – all via a single dashboard. It facilitates the comprehensive monitoring of networks, systems and applications including event logging. Network and system administrators, IT managers in companies and government agencies of all sizes use WhatsUp Gold to improve the availability and performance of their IT services, to stay on budget, and to better serve the requirements of complex environments. WhatsUp Gold offers functions to discover and map IT infrastructure, rapidly identify problem-sources, facilitate adaptation to IT environments, and compile action profiles for automated repairs.
With the newest version of WhatsUp Gold at its disposal, WfbM’s IT team is now using IT manager Uwe Dirks’ preferred software solution to professionally monitor the entire environment, whether virtualized or not, and to continuously notify users of full system availability.