Product Reviews

Web-Based Monitoring A La Carte

IPSentry has a bevy of features that you can buy as needed; what's lacking is a Web-based administration interface.

IPSentry from RGE Inc. provides plenty of functionality, although it has an annoying way of wanting to kill previous instances of itself when you launch the program to administer it. Furthermore, it doesn’t actually have a Web-based interface for configuration, but outputs its reports in HTML format. However, it does provide a fair bit of functionality and allows you to purchase what you need a la carte. It’s also the only roundup product with a freeware version for use in a home-based network, as it can run on Windows 95 and higher.

To install the software, launch the product EXE. If you’re a licensed user, you’ll need to select Register Now during installation to enter your license keys. Next, the IPSentry status window is displayed, indicating the monitoring task’s progress. Selecting Options from the Edit (yes, I said Edit) menu allows you to bring up the configuration interface for IPSentry. (Note to RGE: Edit should contain Cut, Copy, Paste and so on—not the menu option to configure the software.)

The configuration of IPSentry is broken down into three sets of settings:

  • System settings—For configuring frequency of monitoring; installing IPSentry as a service; configuring logging options, telnet and remote access; automatic report creation; and the ability to import and export settings for backup.
  • Modem settings—For enabling and configuring modem use for paging operators when an alert is triggered.
  • Server/machine monitoring—For configuring what you want monitored, how to be alerted and what corrective action should take place.

You can monitor network nodes (computers and devices); network drives and shares; Windows services; and a whole selection of available add-ins, including SMTP/POP3 e-mail round-trip tests, ODBC databases, Performance Monitor counter values and the ability to start and stop Windows services. For each monitor, you can specify a different username and password for authentication, allowing you to run IPSentry on a machine not in your Active Directory forest or NT domain.

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You can also create dependencies between monitors to ensure that you don’t try monitoring a file if the machine on which it resides is down. Another notable feature is the ability to create “reverse alerts” to notify you when something is up rather than down. For example, you may want to configure an alert when a file’s placed in a specific location and then notify someone or execute a script. This can be handy for organizations that need to know when a client places a file on an FTP site, for example.

The set of options available when an alert takes place is quite laudable. IPSentry is the only product reviewed that has an interface for control of X10 devices. This allows you to, for instance, turn lights on and off when something goes wrong. You can send e-mail (obviously), sound an audible alert (play a .wav file), notify one or more individuals by pages, launch a program, configure an Add-in alert or insert a SYSLOG entry on a computer.

IPSentry 4.5
RGE’s IPSentry provides easy-to-read reports in HTML. (Click image to view larger version.)

IPSentry offers a lot of features, but its lack of a Web-based administration interface makes it the odd man out in this evaluation. Its capabilities are excellent (though not as comprehensive as SiteScope), and it did produce the most-easily understood report of any product in the roundup.

IPSentry 4.5, from $465 for a single license to $8,195 for enterprise license; RGE, Inc., (317) 745-3398, www.ipsentry.com.

About the Author

Damir Bersinic, MCSE, MCDBA, MCSA, MCT, is an independent consultant, trainer and author.

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