One of the fastest-growing providers of data networking, IT telephony and structured cabling in the upper Midwest, Wisconsin-based Wire Technologies has grown from a local two-person team to a nationwide provider of networking solutions for small businesses and large, multi-location companies. Delivering design and install services, cabling and network configuration, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and some hosting services, Wire Technologies' hardware, software and design/deployment services offer a complete communication solution from the data center to the mobile user.

To help keep its internal networks and customer systems running at optimal performance, Wire Technologies relies on Paessler AG's PRTG Network Monitor for 24/7 vigilance over network activity, traffic and fault monitoring. Matt Myers, senior network specialist, says that PRTG not only saves him and his team a great deal of time in troubleshooting and resolving network bottlenecks, but also saves his company and its customers money by tracking historical performance data to aid in cost-effective network resource provisioning and system upgrades.

Simple Configuration, Effective Monitoring

"We had been using an open source monitor for Linux, but from a programming and configuration perspective, it was very complex and required a lot of time to configure-both for ourselves and for our customers," Myers said. "PRTG has proven to be much easier to use, in terms of configuration, changes and its ability to provide the historical context for network activity."

Having used PRTG for more than five years now, Myers says that monitoring for internet bandwidth activity is by far the most common application for which he and his customers rely on PRTG. Not only does Wire Technologies monitor their own bandwidth usage, but they frequently install PRTG at customers' facilities to help them keep a watchful eye for unusual activity or determine when capacity expansion may be called for.


Matt Myers, Senior Network Specialist, Wire Technologies

Matt Myers, Senior Network Specialist, Wire Technologies

Automatic Alerts, Continuous Monitoring Speed Troubleshooting

When a network problem does arise, PRTG's automatic notification system sends an email, text or telephone notice to key personnel alerting them of out-of-compliance events. With complete historical data tracking, easy-to-use GUI and user-friendly activity graphs, PRTG makes it easy to see, at a glance, what's going on across the network and track down problems when they occur.

In addition to network activity, PRTG enables Wire Technologies and its clients to continuously monitor server activity, CPU and RAM utilization on critical hardware with sensors that act as sentries reporting usage and load data back to the main interface. Remote sensors can also be deployed on an ad hoc basis to help troubleshoot and resolve intermittent problems on just about any component across the network.

"Without a product like this, the customer might have a problem and no way to backtrack and see if it has been happening over time or whether some preceding event might provide a clue," Myers said. "With PRTG, we can go back and look at the historical issues and activities and begin to diagnose it much more quickly than we could without it."

Faster Response Reduces Downtime

Myers said PRTG relieves a great deal of the manual troubleshooting burden by automatically tracking and recording network activity. He frequently fields requests from customers who ask to have PRTG installed on their networks just to get a snapshot of activity, but they almost always end up installing it across the board to continue monitoring their network.

From a labor standpoint, Myers estimates that PRTG can shave hours and even days off of problem-solving time allowing for faster restoration of optimum network status and reducing downtime.

"I've had customers call me with a problem they've been working on for a day or two," Myers said. "PRTG probably could have pinpointed the cause in less than 30 minutes - less than 10 minutes in some cases."

PRTG Aids in IT Resource Planning to Save Money

For its VoIP customers, Wire Technologies depends on PRTG to properly provision bandwidth resources to prevent the high-demand VoIP from interfering with other data transmission needs. By identifying under-utilized bandwidth, PRTG helps companies optimize their networks to better support VoIP systems and spec out additional bandwidth needs if an upgrade is required.

Equipment upgrades can also be properly budgeted and allocated by using PRTG to identify exactly the amount of throughput needed to either future-proof investments or save money by buying only what is required, depending on the customer's desire.

"We have one customer who thought they would need to upgrade to all Gigabit switches in order to support their VoIP roll out," Myers said. "Using PRTG, we discovered that 100 Mb switches would suffice in most of their closets, potentially saving them a great deal of money. Customers are pleasantly surprised when we can show them exactly how much bandwidth or capacity they need or don't need in certain areas."

"Accessory" Monitoring Adds Functionality

Along with monitoring typical IT systems, PRTG's SNMP tie-in support also allows Wire Technologies to monitor temperature and humidity sensors in its server rooms and receive notification of high/low temperature or humidity problems to protect critical, expensive hardware from environmental damage. Myers says they also use PRTG to monitor backup battery time on their UPS devices to ensure sufficient backup time is available or determine when a UPS upgrade may be necessary.

In addition to PRTG's ease of use and flexibility, Myers notes that the PRTG system is affordable enough for small business customers, but also scales elegantly with a complete feature set to meet the needs of large companies. From monitoring bandwidth usage, server or net flow activity to tracking SMTP traffic to pinpoint apps overloading specific ports, PRTG supports a wide range of monitoring activities to meet virtually any size need.

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