Product Promotion Network

review

Datadog

Datadog (which begins at £15 per host per month, billed annually) is infrastructure management[1] and network monitoring[2] that’s delivered in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) wrapper with agents you can install on numerous platforms, high-end analysis features, and customization capability available via a variety of application programming interfaces (APIs). While not our Editors’ Choice in the infrastructure management category (that honor goes to MMSoft Pulseway[3]), Datadog is still a worthy contender, especially for smaller business with custom requirements. Datadog connects to a number of different popular alert and teaming services, including Atlassian HipChat, Basecamp (formerly Campfire[4]), PagerDuty, and Slack.

Getting Started

Getting started with Datadog involves first creating an account, and then installing and configuring a software agent.

Software agents are available for a host of platforms, including Apple Mac OS X[5], Chef, CoreOS, Debian, Docker[6], Red Hat Fedora, Microsoft Windows 10[7], Puppet, Canonical’s Ubuntu[8], and several others. The Windows agent involves downloading and executing the installer. Datadog provides instructions to use the command line to execute the installer and provide the API key associated to your account, though simply running the Microsoft Installer[9] (MSI) file will prompt you for the API key.

Installing the Linux agent can be accomplished in one of several ways, including simply pasting a pre-formatted command into the Terminal command line. Once the agent is installed and connects back to your Datadog account, you can log into your account and begin monitoring. It’s worth noting that, in most enterprises, agents would be set to install automatically through the normal software distribution process.

The Datadog Agent Manager utility provides access to the configuration files for a number of monitoring targrts, including Apache, Microsoft IIS and SQL Server, VMware vSphere, Windows Services, and a number of others. The level of effort involved in setting up each of these services obviously depends on the service, but in many cases, simply involves configuring connection and credential information. Cloud services are the primary monitoring environment for Datadog, however, and the product supports the common services, including Amazon Web Services[10] (AWS), Microsoft Azure[11], and Google Cloud[12].

Within those services, Datadog can monitor Linux and Windows virtual machines (VMs), and of course, it can monitor standalone Linux servers. We tried it out on Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, and SuSE Enterprise Linux Server 11. Datadog will also monitor Windows 7 and Windows 10 workstations.

While we didn’t test all of them, Datadog supports over 200 integrations of one sort or another, including a vast selection of cloud services. That’s important because it means businesses with specific process and workflow requirements should have less trouble meeting them.

Monitoring and Alerts

Datadog is capable of monitoring and alerting on several different source categories, each of which offers different levels of detail. Depending on what’s being monitored, Datadog can incorporate log files, performance metrics, availability, configuration and change tracking, and a myriad of other information.

Monitors targeting data points that generate large amounts of data such as Windows Event logs or Simple Network Management Protocol[13] (SNMP) logs can be focused based on a number of criteria, limiting the monitored data to critical events. Datadog includes a new log management feature that essentially provides a single pane of glass for monitoring all of your logs. You can jump from a log line to a trace to a metric seamlessly, improving efficiency.

In addition, Datadog now includes application performance management[14] (APM), with support for end-to-end tracing as well as container monitoring with both the container list and the container map. Alerting is one of the more critical aspects of a monitoring tool and Datadog doesn’t disappoint in this department. Datadog alerts can be configured on one device or a group of similar devices.

Alerts can be activated based on thresholds, such as storage capacity reaching 80 percent or five failed log-in attempts occurring within the span of an hour. Security on your alerts can also be managed, which means you can configure Datadog to notify you if an alert configuration is changed or to limit changes to a select group of users. More advanced alerting features include the ability to configure integrations with third-party communication and teaming services such as PagerDuty[15] or Slack[16].

You can also prevent false positives during scheduled maintenance by managing downtime schedules, or prevent alerts from a particular device (permanently or for a fixed period of time) by using the Mute function. Datadog provides a unique means of alert visualization in which each host or VM being monitored is displayed as a hexagon, with the color indicating the alert level, if any. In a typical visualization, your screen may simply be a sea of purple or yellow hexagons (see figure below), with the alerts popping up in a different color showing the level of severity.

Click on one and you can see in an instant what’s wrong.

Analysis Capabilities

Datadog doesn’t offer a conventional reporting tool as the focus of the service is on real-time monitoring; however, historical reports are available through Datadog’s Notebooks function. Fortunately, Datadog offers analysis capabilities that extend well beyond a traditional report set, starting with the search capability provided in the Event view. Users can build queries based on a number of criteria, including the host, event priority, tag, or status.

These queries can be saved to provide easy access later, and can be exported or saved by using the Notebooks function. Datadog bases much of its analysis on tagging, which can be automated by using configuration management tools. Tagging lets you display the data you need in exactly the way you need it displayed, which can be helpful when you’re visualizing data.

The dashboard functionality Datadog provides goes well beyond what most of the competition offers. While other monitoring tools bring real-time updates, customizable graphs, and even interactive charts that let you drill into the data, these features are only scratching the surface for Datadog.

Datadog offers TimeBoards and ScreenBoards, two dashboard types designed to facilitate different sorts of monitoring. TimeBoards are intended to use in troubleshooting efforts.

They offer the ability to view time-synchronized metrics in an attempt to show correlation between events on different systems, such as the impact code changes, backups, or other administrative events impacting performance. ScreenBoards are intended as more of a heads-up display that’s always in view. ScreenBoards are primarily intended to show current status and performance information, and can be easily shared via a public URL.

Either dashboard version can be placed in TV mode for full-screen viewing. In addition to catering to specific use cases, Datadog offers some advanced functionality in their graphs. The user interface (UI) offers a number of visualizations, formatting options, and even the ability to layer graphs to more easily correlate data and identify cause and effect.

Users can also view, edit, and share graph configurations by using JavaScript Object Notation[17] (JSON), a capability that can ease the creation of new dashboards when leveraged by a savvy administrator.

Extensibility and Customization

Another major strength of Datadog is the level of integration and customization users can achieve. Users can leverage over 200 built-in integrations with open-source software, cloud services, enterprise apps, and standards-based admin tools. These integration connectors provide the ability to monitor code changes, track administrative actions, view performance of physical devices or apps, or even facilitate communication in ways that make the most sense for your business.

For more advanced users or service providers, Datadog offers a number of use cases for their APIs using JSON. Users with development capabilities can send events to Datadog by using a client library (official libraries support C#, Go, Python, and Ruby, but there are a number of community libraries as well). Events can also be sent to Datadog via automated email bu using plain text for basic event logging or JSON for control over things such as categorization and priority.

Datadog even supports interacting with every aspect of the service, including events, monitors, downtime, dashboards, users, or graphs using their API.

Pricing and Tiers

Datadog offers three pricing tiers, including a free service level that limits you to one day of retention, five hosts, and no alert capability, so it’ll likely only be good as an evaluation tier for most companies. The Enterprise tier is required for corporations looking to monitor more than 500 hosts, and pricing is negotiated on a per-customer basis. Most customers will likely go for the Pro service level, which costs £15 per month per host when billed annually — not quite as cheap as say, ConnectWise Automate[18], but still competitive.

Datadog Pro provides support for up to 500 hosts and offers alerting, custom metrics and events, and 15-month data retention. Datadog is an impressive solution for companies looking for a real-time monitoring tool, particularly those with the analysis and development chops to get the most out of the data being captured. Unfortunately, there are companies out there that have a requirement for a more traditional reporting capability, and others that don’t want to spend the time investing the time and effort needed to use a service like Datadog to its full potential.

Bottom Line: Datadog is an infrastructure management service that’s ideal for IT shops that can fully leverage its automation, application programming interface (API), and data analysis capabilities.

Datadog also offers many integrations, dashboards, and alerts that smaller companies will find useful.

References

  1. ^ infrastructure management (uk.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ network monitoring (uk.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ MMSoft Pulseway (uk.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ formerly Campfire (basecamp.com)
  5. ^ Apple Mac OS X (uk.pcmag.com)
  6. ^ Docker (uk.pcmag.com)
  7. ^ Microsoft Windows 10 (uk.pcmag.com)
  8. ^ Ubuntu (uk.pcmag.com)
  9. ^ Microsoft Installer (www.pcmag.com)
  10. ^ Amazon Web Services (uk.pcmag.com)
  11. ^ Microsoft Azure (uk.pcmag.com)
  12. ^ Google Cloud (uk.pcmag.com)
  13. ^ Simple Network Management Protocol (www.pcmag.com)
  14. ^ application performance management (uk.pcmag.com)
  15. ^ PagerDuty (uk.pcmag.com)
  16. ^ Slack (uk.pcmag.com)
  17. ^ JavaScript Object Notation (www.pcmag.com)
  18. ^ ConnectWise Automate (uk.pcmag.com)

Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold

“Comprehensive” is the best word to describe infrastructure management[1] service Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold (which begins at £2,656 for up to 25 devices). While Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold doesn’t completely fulfill every feature requirement you might have on your administrative wish list, it does cover three broad categories of IT management quite well: infrastructure management, application performance management[2] (APM), and network monitoring[3]. With all that under one hood, many small to midsize businesses (SMBs) will find that Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold is all they need.

But, while Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold does compete effectively in all these categories, it doesn’t manage to distinguish itself in any of them well enough to warrant an Editors’ Choice award. Still, for those IT professionals who are partial to its interface and management interface, it remains an effective option. (Our Editors’ Choice award in the infrastructure management category instead goes to MMSoft Pulseway[4]). If you use Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold, then everything must run on-premises in order to perform all monitoring tasks, which means you’ll need a Windows machine (either Windows 7 and up for a client machine or Windows Server 2008 and up if you want to run it on a server), between 4 GB and 32 GB of RAM depending upon how many devices you’re monitoring, and at least 15 GB of disk space (though I’d recommend considerably more if you intend on storing log files on the same machine for any length of time).

Ipswitch recommends running Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold on a server platform. On the upside, unlike many of the infrastructure management solutions delivered as cloud services, you won’t need to install any agents on your various infrastructure bits because Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold utilizes existing management protocols such as Simple Network Management Protocol[5] (SNMP) and Windows Management Instrumentation[6] (WMI) to gather its information. Microsoft officially deprecated[7] support for SNMP with the release of Windows Server 2012 and recommends the use of the Common Information Model[8] (CIM) through Windows Remote Management (WRM) instead.

However, SNMP and SNMP WMI Provider is still available on Windows Server 2016 by simply selecting a check box and setting up community names, so reports of its demise may have been premature. Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold will support CIM by the time Microsoft ends support for SNMP, according to the company. The lack of support for a cloud-based console means that you won’t be able to manage inward from the cloud.

However, IpSwitch WhatsUp Gold now fully supports monitoring of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure instances. You can also monitor Linux and Apache web servers and Microsoft SharePoint. Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold shines when it comes to network management.

For one thing, it provides a much better graphical display of ongoing network usage than either Idera Uptime Infrastructure Monitor[9] or ManageEngine OpManager[10]. [embedded content]

New Version and Capabilities

Ipswitch announced a new version of WhatsUp Gold timed to ship as this update was being completed. We had a brief look at the pre-release version of this package, and it continues with the well-designed web UI, and it adds a collection of important new capabilities.

The new capabilities include cloud performance monitoring for AWS and Azure as well as billing performance monitoring, AWS virtual machine (VM) monitoring, support for Cisco Meraki, Cisco AP discovery and monitoring, SSID and interface utilization overlays to create heat maps, and support for Dell Compellant storage discovery and monitoring. Plus it now allows you to post to Slack channel action. A mobile access capability exists as well, although you’ll need to work some port forwarding magic to get it to work in most cases.

On the virtualization front, you’ll find good support for VMware VMs and for Microsoft’s Hyper-V.

Fast Installation

One of the areas Ipswitch focused on for the latest release of Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold is the user installation and discovery experience. They wanted to make Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold the easiest product to get installed and running in the shortest amount of time. And it looks like they succeeded because I was able to get everything installed and a network scan completed in under 30 minutes.

Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold found a total of 45 devices on my network including a few that similar products have failed to find. Figure 1 above shows the Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold Admin Console app with the Active Monitor Library dialog open, allowing the creation of a New NT Service Monitor. This feature makes it possible to create unique monitor elements to keep track of critical infrastructure services.

In this case, I created an Active Monitor to watch the Microsoft IIS service running on the system with the address 192.168.1.23. Configuring the Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold mobile access requires either a server with a public IP address or port forwarding at the corporate firewall. The Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold documentation isn’t a lot of help at this point, stating, “If you want WhatsUp Gold Mobile Access to be accessible via the Internet, then make sure it is available on a server with a public IP.” That’s a fairly limited implementation of mobility when you compare it to products such as MMSoft Pulseway and Stackify Retrace[11] that both offer easy and full-featured web access.

Management Interface

Even though its server-side software still needs to be installed locally, Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold has a web-based user interface (UI).

The previous Windows app has been deprecated and is now only available for a few special functions such as system migration. The web-based UI is very busy with plenty of tabs and buttons to distract you. On a positive note, once you get used to them, all of those tabs actually make it easier to jump from the home page to a specific device or problem displayed on its dashboard.

The Layer 2 topology map shows a nice amount of detail including system name or IP address and the port number connection on the switch (see Figure 2 above). You can swap to a details view with a single click and see most of the same information in tabular form. Figure 3 below shows what happens when you select one of the devices and then right-click with the mouse.

Selecting the device brings up a detail box with additional information. A right-click operation displays a menu of options allowing you to quickly launch a remote desktop session or the web task manager. The Problem Areas tab gives a quick overview of all devices either in a completely down state or with down active monitors.

As with other screens, a single click will take you directly to the information page for that device to help identify the problem. The Alerts screen under the Dashboard tab provides a good overview of all problem areas across the board to include infrastructure, network, and apps. Configuring alerts consists of selecting an existing item from the Alert Center Threshold Library or creating a new one.

A custom performance monitor can draw from a range of sources to include PowerShell scripts, SQL Queries, WMI parameters and even UPS status. In general, each performance monitor will trigger an alert when the monitored item exceeds or falls below the threshold value for a specified amount of time. Notification policies provide a way to send either an SMS message or email when individual alerts occur or when the number of alerts cross a threshold.

Slick Application Performance Management Plug-In

On the application performance management (APM) front, Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold includes support for an aforementioned plug-in, appropriately dubbed “WhatsUp Gold APM.” With this add-on module, you can gain access to a large library of turnkey app profiles that has been updated in version 16.3 to include support for Oracle’s eBusiness Suite, Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager (CUCM), and a wide variety of Microsoft back-office platforms such as Active Directory (AD), Dynamics, Exchange, SQL Server, and more.

You can also set up custom app profiles using the add-on’s Application Profile Development Utility, though your mileage may vary depending upon the guts of the target app. For its part, Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold provides access to a Management Information Base[12] (MIB) browser and a WMI library to make this functionality as broad as possible. Once installed, WhatsUp Gold APM delivers APM starting with a dashboard showing multiple app states (up, warning, down, maintenance, and unknown) and can be set to have threshold values for each of these.

So, if a particular folder has reached 90 percent of its storage capacity, for example, then WhatsUp Gold APM can be configured to show it as being in a warning state. This can also be extended to app dependencies such as, if your IIS Server is down, then so is your SharePoint instance, which means you can configure IIS as a component of SharePoint for the purposes of APM. Finally, in response to specific app states, WhatsUp Gold APM can be configured to employ user-defined action policies and alert processes.

Choose between text or email for alerting, for example, or kick off a certain PowerShell script in response to a certain app warning. You can keep track of all of this via a series of customizable dashboards as well as historical status reports.

Tally Your Pricing

Pricing for Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold starts at £2,656 for up to 25 devices, which sounds expensive but, compared to products such as ManageEngine OpManager, it’s actually fairly reasonable once you get to an actual tally of devices and options. Adding plug-ins, however, can run the price up considerably, depending upon the plug-in.

Ipswitch’s WhatsVirtual plug-in, for example, adds deeper insight into vCenter and VMware ESXi hosts, at a starting price of £1,809. Overall, Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold definitely qualifies as a one-product-fits-all for the three categories reviewed (i.e., infrastructure management, app performance management, and network monitoring). It does have some pieces missing; however, because of its broad support for customization, scripting, and management standards, there are often workarounds for those looking to run the package in non-standard implementations.

Ipswitch isn’t of much help if things go wrong in such situations, however, so going this route typically isn’t for the faint of heart.

Still, for most SMBs, Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold will provide everything an IT administrator will need, as long as there’s some local server muscle for deployment.

Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold

Bottom Line: Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold is a comprehensive infrastructure management service.

Its new version offers capabilities such as cloud performance monitoring for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure as well as billing performance monitoring.

References

  1. ^ infrastructure management (uk.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ application performance management (uk.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ network monitoring (uk.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ MMSoft Pulseway (uk.pcmag.com)
  5. ^ Simple Network Management Protocol (www.pcmag.com)
  6. ^ Windows Management Instrumentation (www.pcmag.com)
  7. ^ officially deprecated (technet.microsoft.com)
  8. ^ Common Information Model (www.pcmag.com)
  9. ^ Idera Uptime Infrastructure Monitor (uk.pcmag.com)
  10. ^ ManageEngine OpManager (uk.pcmag.com)
  11. ^ Stackify Retrace (uk.pcmag.com)
  12. ^ Management Information Base (www.pcmag.com)

Watch Circuit Breaker live for Nintendo Switch projectors and Android P speculation

Season two of Circuit Breaker Live is almost over, so you have to enjoy the show while you still can. Nilay’s wife Becky had a baby, so he’ll be streaming it live at home, just like you. His baby is going to learn about gadgets, just like you, too.

As always, we’ll be live at 4PM ET on The Verge‘s YouTube channel. Paul and I will be hosting this episode where we’ll talk with Chaim Gartenberg about Nintendo Switch projectors.

Sean O’Kane will join us later to talk about his review of the Light L16 camera, which just looks awesome. Then, finally, Jake Kastrenakes will show us Ikea’s new Bluetooth speaker, the Enemy.

We’ll probably marvel at its design.

Oh, and a special Verge West Coast guest will be on the show, too, to speculate about Android P and what that P means.

Tune in at the embed above or the link here.

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