Me Inc HipCheckMobility Service review
It’s now generally expected that servers, especially web servers, will be available at any time. Continuity of service is essential, and support staff need to be able to respond to problems in a timely manner. It has long been possible for server software to generate alerts either through email, pagers or SMS, and support staff are accustomed to being interrupted by a server calling for help. It isn’t always easy to get to a network link, however, and HipCheck eases this situation by providing both the alert service and the software to access servers using a mobile phone.
Using agents installed on the target systems, the HipCheck servers can monitor their health and relay their generated alerts through SMS. Client software installed on a suitable Windows Mobile phone can receive these alerts and interact with any system via the HipCheck Mobility server, run by SCO, using the mobile phone service provider’s network. Users can be assigned various privilege levels for differing levels of seniority.
The client interface opens with the default system summary, displaying each system’s colour-coded status and active alert counter. Detailed system information is available, and key data, such as free disk space, printer and service status, can be examined. Alerts can be configured for these important items, and services and processes can be started or stopped, error logs can be reviewed and user accounts examined.
When an alert is triggered, the technician can use these facilities to determine the cause of the alert, and, in most cases, remedy the problem without needing physical access. Although alerts can be raised when important processes stop, they can’t be raised when one starts or fails to start, which means that it can’t be used to check if an automatic process, such as a backup, has started on time. However, services can also be monitored, and alerts can be triggered when these change their state.
Although aimed at providing server control through a mobile phone, the software also includes a HipCheck Client for Windows systems. Alert messages can be sent via email instead of SMS, so that systems can be monitored and controlled from fixed locations as well. Licensing is based on server months and can be adjusted online. The basic licence, covering three servers for three months, is actually for nine server months, so it could be adjusted to provide coverage for one server for nine months.
On the downside, it isn’t possible to remotely reboot a server. It would also be useful if the software would cater for Mac- and Linux-based servers because, at the moment, it’s restricted to Windows and SCO Unix systems. While the system’s status summary will report any system that isn’t responding, as yet it doesn’t generate an alert when this happens. So support staff will still have to monitor their server status displays at regular intervals. Although the latter feature is being developed for a later release, these omissions do detract from an otherwise useful support tool.