Guard switches its net management products

Guard switches its net management products

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Citing ease of use, Army National Guard officials have changed network management products.

'Ease of use is paramount,' said Col. William A. Hose, director of information management at the Minnesota National Guard in St. Paul. 'At the pay rates the military has for technical folks, we have high turnover.'

Late last year, Guard officials decided to begin a nationwide deployment of WhatsUp Gold 4.0 from Ipswitch Inc. of Lexington, Mass. WhatsUp Gold will replace Hewlett-Packard OpenView, Hose said.

The difficulties learning Hewlett-Packard OpenView required a changing of the guard to Ipswitch's WhatsUp Gold 4.0, National Guard officials say.

Army Guard officials also use CiscoWorks 2000 from Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., he said.

'Network operations people can become experts in a few minutes' using WhatsUp Gold, Hose said. By contrast, 'with HP OpenView, you need to go to school for a week, and you can still have problems.'

Hose, who was a guardsman for a dozen years before going on active duty 11 years ago, belongs to the Guard's Information Management Advisory Board and the Reserve Component Automation System Requirement Control Board, which recommended the switch.

Hose said he regarded Ipswitch's predecessor to WhatsUp Gold as a toy.

But after the company enhanced the product and released it as WhatsUp Gold a few years ago, 'we started using it over HP OpenView' at the Minnesota Guard.

WhatsUp Gold 4.0 can ping all the services on a TCP/IP network at regular intervals to determine if there has been any failure, said Frank Days, Ipswitch's vice president of marketing. 'It does a lot of what a network administrator would do' manually.

The Minnesota Guard uses WhatsUp Gold to monitor its Domain Name System, antivirus software, Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5, the network's Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and Hypertext Transfer Protocol capabilities, as well as a Web server, message transfer agent and message store server, Hose said.

The Guard also uses the product to monitor Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 message transfer agents and a personnel index developed in Microsoft SQL Server.

The Minnesota Guard maintains up to 120 servers in 78 locations and uses WhatsUp Gold 4.0 across a TCP/IP network, Hose said.

For the most part, the Guard uses Hewlett-Packard Co. servers and Compaq Computer Corp. PCs. Although many people think of RCAS as the Guard's main information technology program, Hose said 80 percent of the Minnesota Guard's servers are not used for the system.

Cheaper, too

The Army National Guard bought 55 licenses of WhatsUp Gold, one for each state and territory, and an extra copy for the National Guard Bureau, Hose said.

He declined to reveal how much Guard officials paid for the software but said it cost less than one copy of HP OpenView. Schedule pricing for WhatsUp Gold 4.0 is $687 a copy; OpenView Professional Suite sells for $709.

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