SolarWinds ipMonitor review

£830
Price when reviewed

When something goes wrong on your network you can be sure your users will soon tell you about it. You can also be sure they probably won’t be able to tell you much that will help you pinpoint the problem, which is where network monitoring software starts to earn its keep. WhatsUp Gold is our current A List choice, but ipMonitor is a well established alternative and version 9 brings some new and improved management features.

Installation is straightforward, and configuring the software takes just a few minutes. It can take a while to probe a large network to discover the connected devices and configure the required monitors, but this only needs to be done once. You can also restrict the probing to subnetworks and do the entire network in stages if preferred, and new devices can easily be added afterwards.

Once the initial discovery is complete ipMonitor suggests the monitors and settings needed for each device so that the system can be up and running in quick time. Of course these settings can be changed later as needed. The software uses the readily available SNMP, RPC and WMI facilities to check on the state of networked devices, and doesn’t need to install agent software on them to monitor their performance.

All the expected information is available in various forms. There are top ten lists by various categories, detailed performance displays of individual devices as well as network maps and the real-time Network Operations Center (NOC) to highlight performance issues using colour coding and even audible warnings.

ipMonitor’s improved Dashboard could be mistaken for WhatsUp Gold’s workspace display, but since it covers the same territory some similarities can be expected. ipMonitor is no WhatsUp Gold clone, however, and this becomes obvious as you get down to the more detailed displays available.

Being able to see where a problem is occurring is obviously useful, but it would be nice if you could know about it before your users pick up their phones. The software runs synthetic transactions to check that applications such as databases and web servers are actually running rather than simply relying on simple status checks. If the system does discover a problem it can warn you in a number of ways, including email and SMS messages.

While the real-time monitoring is the main reason for having monitoring software, reporting is also useful. IpMonitor saves its performance data over time and provides highly detailed reports that can be invaluable in analysing trends as well as troubleshooting persistent or long-term issues. These can be accessed from the NOC display or from individual device and device group displays.

At first glance ipMonitor looks cheaper than WhatsUp Gold, but costs are calculated on the basis of monitors rather than devices. Using SolarWinds’ own recommendation of ten monitors per device, the maximum number of networked devices it can support is 500. WhatsUp Gold can scale beyond that limit, which may be a consideration. On the other hand WhatsUp Gold’s licences are per device and ipMonitor’s are per monitor, so you may be able to stretch to more devices by restricting the number of monitors used on each.

ipMonitor’s new management features make it easier to control and monitor large complex networks and to pinpoint issues in a timely manner. There’s little to choose between ipMonitor and WhatsUp Gold for smaller networks, and either will do a good job. If you don’t need WhatsUp Gold’s scalability and ability to monitor distributed networks then ipMonitor is a good choice.

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