MSP Solutions in WhatsUp Professional 2006

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1 MSP Solutions in WhatsUp Professional 2006 The Managed Service Provider (MSP) market is a growing industry that has the task of monitoring the networks of remote clients. This paper describes how WhatsUp Professional can be deployed by an MSP or by companies that have satellite offices outside of their WAN.

2 How Can a MSP Monitor a Remote Client Network? In traditional network monitoring, your network monitoring software is configured on a device connected to your LAN or WAN and exists as a part of the network. When trouble arises, the process to troubleshoot and resolve the issue is started quickly and usually by someone who works on-site, or in a close proximity. However, a Managed Solution Provider, or MSP, is not necessarily located in the same building, the same town, or even in the same country as the client whose network they are monitoring. Since MSP clients are relying on the MSP to keep their systems up and running, it is necessary for the MSP to diagnose and treat the problem as soon as possible. When something goes wrong, troubleshooting needs to be done remotely so the MSP can be better equipped to fix the problem, usually before the client even finds out there is a problem. Taking the time to travel to the client site may not be acceptable. You have choices! With a thoughtful deployment of WhatsUp Professional installations, MSPs can access a remote client network using a variety of connection types and security settings. This lets the MSP obtain and manage a wide-range of clients and client situations, tailoring specific network management solutions based on the needs of the client, the technology available, and the technical abilities of the client s employees. Where to Begin The backbone of your monitoring solution is your central installation of WhatsUp Professional. This copy is used in different ways according to the type of client you have, but it is necessary for smooth operation of the remote network you are monitoring. Once the central copy of WhatsUp has been installed, you can manually add devices for each of the clients you want to configure for your network. Specific configuration information for each company type appears later in this paper. Building Your Client Network Figure 1 MSP view of client networks In tailoring the MSP solutions for this paper, we came up with a series of questions that should be considered when deciding how you are going to build each part of your client network. These questions help you sort what is practical from what is possible. Does the client want live reports? Is there a VPN available between the MSP and the client? Does the client have a large number of devices to be monitored? (Usually above 10) Does the client want to perform administration tasks on its network? Does the client want polling to continue if the VPN is down? Does the client only want the MSP to monitor public resources? Does the MSP need client SNMP traps sent back to central console? Figure 1, shows the MSP installation of WhatsUp Professional with 6 clients being monitored. The top three are monitoring remote WhatsUp installations, and the bottom three are monitoring either internal or external resources. MSP Solutions in WhatsUp Professional

3 Figure 2 shows each of the four types of company that we have identified for this paper. There may be more types and distinctions, but these should fit most client needs. A - Small network with VPN B - Large network with VPN C - Large network without VPN D - Public resource monitoring Figure 2 - Your Client Network The next section of this paper shows a break-down of each of the company types and their relationship with the MSP installation of WhatsUp Professional. The legend in the bottom-right side of the graphic shows the type of connection that the MSP is using for that specific client type. Company Type A In this configuration, the MSP creates a VPN connection to the client and handles all monitoring of the client network directly. In WhatsUp, a single device group displays the entire network for this client. The client has only a few devices that must be monitored, so traffic load on the VPN is kept to a minimum. The MSP s firewall is configured so that data from one VPN d client cannot be accessed by other clients. Reporting The client views its reports through an open web connection to the MSP s public web server running WhatsUp Professional. A user account is created that limits the client s access to only the device and group reports in specific groups. The WhatsUp web interface is configured on port 80, and the MPS s firewall is further configured to only allow specific client IP addresses to this port. Since the MSP installation of WhatsUp is handling all of the alerts for this type of client, all alerting can be done through a single Action Policy. In the WhatsUp console, go to the Action Policy Library and create a policy for your client. Since it is unlikely anyone is at the client site to handle a problem, only the staff of the MSP should be notified that there is an outage of some kind. After creating the action policy, use the Bulk Field Change feature to apply the policy to all of the devices in the device group for that client. The action policy you create can contain a series of actions customized for that client. For example, you can create actions that have the client name in the subject field. MSP Solutions in WhatsUp Professional

4 Company Type B Like Company A, Company B allows the MSP to use a VPN connection into its network. With this type, the MSP is only concerned with the remote WhatsUp install configured to monitor the client s network on-site. The MSP uses the VPN connection to check on the health and availability of the remote WhatsUp install, and to access the web interface without opening it to the public internet. The MSP s firewall is configured so that data from one client cannot be accessed by other clients. This configuration is useful for clients who have relatively large networks or large number of active and performance monitors on their devices. Since the bulk of the monitoring is handled locally, traffic is not heavy across the VPN. Reporting Reporting is handled by the remote WhatsUp Professional installation, and can be access by the client locally, or by the MSP through the VPN secured web interface. Actions are configured on the client side, but could be made to only alert the MSP and/or any onsite technician that knows how to deal with the specific device it is on. Company Type C In this company type, the MSP installs a remote copy of WhatsUp Professional at the client site and uses a secure SSL connection to configure and monitor that installation through the secure web interface. At the client site, a firewall is configured to only allow the IP used by the MSP to connect to the port the SSL web sever is running on. The MSP s central installation of WhatsUp monitors the connection to the secure web server, but does not handle the bulk of the network monitoring. MSP Solutions in WhatsUp Professional

5 Reporting Reporting is handled by the remote WhatsUp Professional installation, and can be access by the client locally, or by the MSP through the secure SSL web interface. Actions are configured on the client side, but could be configured to only alert the MSP and/or any on-site technician that knows how to deal with the specific device it is on. Company Type D Company type D is different than the others. In this company, the MSP is only required to watch the public resources for the client. These are public-facing FTP sites, Web sites, Mail servers, etc. The client s network is not monitored, nor does the MSP care what is going on behind the company s firewalls. The question mark in the graphic symbolizes this. This company type can also be an add-on to a client where the MSP is monitoring the internal network as well. Reporting Reporting can be handled in the same manner as Company A, but this type may also assume that the resources and knowledge is not there to keep the connection open and visible. Therefore, the MSP should configure Recurring Reports that go out to the client on a regular basis, giving them the status of their public resources. Actions and alerts can be configured in the same manner as the actions described for Company A. Connecting through WhatsUp Professional When you are monitoring a remote instance of WhatsUp (as in the top three devices in the graphic to the left) you can right-click on the device icon to access the device context menu. 1. On this menu, select Remote Desktop to connect to the computer running WhatsUp. (Terminal Services must be available.) 2. Select Browse, to open an web browser to the WhatsUp Professional web interface running on that device. For the Browse menu to work, you may have to change the settings in Device Properties > Menu for that entry. MSP Solutions in WhatsUp Professional

6 The Decision Matrix Now that the company types have been identified, let s revisit the client considerations previously described. The chart below shows each of the considerations and the company type that could be used to meet that consideration. If there is no X in a box, it means that the statement is not the best fit for that company type. Keep in mind that these are only guidelines, and that some clients could be a hybrid of two or more of these client types. Client Consideration A B C D Client wants Live Reports X X X There is no VPN available X X Client has > 10 devices to be monitored (limited bandwidth) X X Client wants to perform administration tasks on its network X X * Polling should continue if the VPN is down X X Client only wants MSP to monitor public resources X MSP needs client SNMP traps sent back to central console X X * Since the MSP is not concerned with that part of the client network, this is not a viable consideration. Conclusion With some planning and client research, a MSP can create an efficient client network through existing WhatsUp Professional 2006 functionality. While this paper does not go into detail on how to configure the monitoring of individual networks, it does put the MSP user on the right path to solving the problem of monitoring remote systems. Beyond this paper, any specific WhatsUp configuration question can be answered by reading the Online Help, the Getting Started Guide, or by searching the Knowledge Base found at Ipswitch.com. Firewall and VPN connection settings should be researched separately, as specifics depend on the software and hardware used by the client. MSP Solutions in WhatsUp Professional

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