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Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold 2019 review: What’s on your network?

Robust and flexible network monitoring for businesses of every size

Price
£2,104
  • Fast discovery; Centralised web console; Highly configurable dashboards; Impressive range of monitoring tools
  • Very basic mobile app

There are few network monitoring products that can match Ipswitch's WhatsUp Gold (WUG) for longevity and features and the latest 2019 version adds even more choice ingredients to the melting pot. First up is the new Live Activity Status Bar & Report feature which ensures support staff see critical device status alerts as they happen.

The application performance monitor (APM) component has been enhanced too, making it easier to access and configure. Add the Configuration Management component and you can now view multiple device configuration archives, compare them and spot any changes.

WUG can pick up dark web activity as its Network Traffic Analysis (NTA) add-on gets the benefit of an IP reputation library. Combining this with flow monitoring, it watches out for accesses to Tor entry and exit points, and alerts you if it spots any activity.

Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold 2019 review: Licensing and deployment

New licensing schemes were introduced in the previous version which use a simple points-based system. Each device, regardless of network ports, CPUs and so on is considered one element and costs one point, while monitored applications or NetFlow data sources each cost ten points.

The Premium edition on review offers yearly subscription or licensed versions and includes core features such as discovery, alerting and reporting, plus device, cloud and storage monitoring. Add-ons for NTA, virtualisation monitoring and application monitoring can be purchased separately or you can go for the Total Plus version which includes them all.

We found installation on a Windows Server 2019 host a simple affair, which automatically loaded the requisite SQL Server 2014 Express and IIS. Network discovery is also handled well as the console's wizard scanned our local IP subnet and offered a bunch of videos to help with initial deployment.

We created custom scans complete with a list of device and virtualization host, plus cloud service credentials, and scheduled them to run every day. WUG's discovery only took 7 minutes to scan the lab's IP subnet after which it presented a list of all our network devices.

Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold 2019 review: Dashboard design

Ipswitch has worked hard on refining the console and making it easier to use. The console's top menu bar has only four options where we could create and run scans, view our network topology, access analysis dashboards and configure WUG settings.

The My Network tab provides a device overview where each is assigned a colour-coded status icon. Dynamic groups sort device membership based on criteria such as core, cloud, storage or wireless infrastructures and WUG's rule builder tool helps create custom groups.

From the Analyze tab, we could load a home dashboard which presents a clear overview of everything network related. Predefined tabs are provided to jump straight to viewing the busiest devices, the latest actions, critical activities and storage status.

Dashboards are highly configurable, allowing us to create new views with a choice selection of reports -- if WUG is monitoring it, you can add it to a view. For the new Live Activity dashboard, you choose what activities to list along with event severities and sit back and watch the action as it happens.

Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold 2019 review: Actions

You'll want to be notified promptly when there's a problem and WUG provides a tool for creating policies, linking them with device state changes and assigning actions. For the latter, you can pick and choose from 23 actions, including sending SMS and email, restarting a service, running a script or program and linking up with the ServiceNow, OpsGenie, IFTTT (if this then that) and Slack services.

The APM component is, indeed, very easy to configure as we could search for and add new apps directly from the console's Settings menu. WUG provides 64 profiles for a range of popular business apps, which it discovers on the selected devices and adds to the APM dashboard ready for you to assign alert policies.

To test the Configuration Management component, we used its scripts to automatically backup the startup and running configs on our HPE network switches. We could view these in WUG's configuration archive page, select multiple files and compare them where a new window showed them all side by side with colours highlighting any differences.

Dark web activity monitoring isn't particularly radical; WUG's NTA add-on just uses a couple of Tor Project exit IP address lists which it can refresh as often as once a day. We fired up some dark web action on our test workstations and within minutes, the NTA's Suspicious Activity dashboard listed them and identified them as Tor activities.

Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold 2019 review: Mobile apps and virtual monitoring

Ipswitch has finally caught up with the competition and released a mobile app for WUG. Supporting iOS 11 upwards, we loaded it on our iPad and were distinctly unimpressed by its sparse interface.

After logging in to our WUG host, the app presented a dashboard showing the number of devices sorted into coloured blocks for up, down, unknown and maintenance categories. Tapping on a block lists the devices within but selecting one just shows a single page with a very simple status view. If you want to see how it's done properly, check out Paessler's PRTG - its iOS app is a class act.

The Virtualization Monitoring pack is more impressive: it supports VMware and Hyper-V hosts and will discover them from standard scans. Accessed from the Analyze tab, we could select a host and view plenty of information about running VMs, including host CPU, memory, disk space and virtual interface resource utilization.

Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold 2019 review: Verdict

Its informative web console and wealth of features make WhatsUpGold 2019 a great network monitoring choice for businesses of all sizes. Its device-based licensing makes it ideal for those that want to monitor absolutely everything on their network and the optional add-on modules allow it to be customised to suit most budgets.

Verdict

A great network monitoring choice for SMEs and larger businesses that offers an easily customized and highly informative central console, heaps of features and extreme ease of use

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