With 140 employees in eight offices across the country, plus two sister companies, Westrope has become the 7th largest wholesale insurance brokerage firm in the United States, specializing in high-risk property, casualty, comprehensive and professional liability insurance for large and medium-size companies. But with a team of just three IT professionals to manage the day-to-day networking and computing operations, the company needed an extra set of eyes on its network to minimize downtime and ensure the availability of critical IT infrastructure.
Unique flexibility enhances PRTG value
For most IT professionals, the term “network monitor” has a rather specific and narrow definition: a software tool designed to observe activity across a given IT infrastructure. However, with the aid of Paessler AG's highly flexible and affordable PRTG Network Monitor, Westrope has discovered how the integration of this traditionally IT-focused technology across other critical systems can also help them monitor and maintain physical security, telephony and HVAC infrastructure with ease and simplicity.
"I was already familiar with PRTG when I came to Westrope and had been impressed with its easy setup and simple interface that allows you to see a snapshot of just what you need, without all the clutter that you get with other monitoring tools," said William Hardy, information systems engineer at Westrope. "We began with a pretty standard deployment, monitoring servers and shared network drives to optimize performance and prepare for upgrades, but we’ve also seen a huge benefit from some of the more unique applications."
In addition to the company's T1, fiber lines, and VMware servers, Westrope has also deployed PRTG to monitor and report on several custom applications that keep the company’s other critical business systems up and running.
When an air conditioner malfunction in the Westrope IT room brought systems to a crawl, Hardy and his team devised a custom application that monitors the temperature inside the room. By monitoring the system with PRTG he is able to monitor for temperature and view real-time data in the PRTG dashboard, even from his home computer.
"Paessler’s network monitoring software not only provides peace of mind, but also a sophisticated level of supervision that other solutions cannot," Hardy said. "Its simple and clean interface gives me the kind of information I need immediately without the mess of multiple layers."
To keep tabs on physical building security, Hardy pointed sensors of PRTG on the company’s security software, C-Cure, which records an activity log of access traffic through secured doors in each office. The sensors ensure that, if the C-Cure system goes down, the IT team receives instant notification via email, text message or pager so that they may begin to troubleshoot and resolve the problem the moment the outage occurs to reduce the threat of physical security breaches.
PRTG helps Westrope achieve greater confidence in its voice and mobile communications systems as well. Sensors on the telephony software that logs calls and provides Caller ID information helps the IT team stay on top of land-line telephone issues, while a probe on the company’s BlackBerry enterprise server monitor for e-mail and SMS continuity. Meanwhile, sensors on each of the company’s networked printers allows them track page counts and frequency of use to determine when a printer is ready for an upgrade or needs to be taken out of service.
Remote probes ideal for multiple locations
PRTG's remote probe capability allows Westrope to monitor critical IT infrastructure in each of its 10 office locations and monitor for traffic flow, uptime and other critical systems issues, all from the company's headquarters. A probe (a small-footprint agent utility) acquires the monitoring data in each location, and transmits the results to headquarters on a schedule that is determined by Hardy and his team. This aggregated delivery dramatically reduces the amount of traffic on the network, freeing up valuable bandwidth for other more business-critical transmissions.
In addition to being highly effective and flexible, Hardy says PRTG is also an extremely cost-effective solution, particularly for their growing company. Westrope has recently upgraded from its 100 sensors package to an enterprise-grade 500 sensor package, due to recent expansion.
"Paessler’s no-nonsense pricing structure allows for immediate identification of costs without having to worry about hidden expenses down the road," he said. "And, they’re always prompt in responding to my requests for support – another valuable part of the relationship."