REVIEWER: Eric Hill, director of IT services for Wilshire Oncology.

BACKGROUND: As one of the leading cancer treatment centers in the U.S., Wilshire Oncology Medical Group operates seven clinical treatment centers throughout the Los Angeles area dedicated exclusively to the most advanced, community-based cancer care. The company's leading-edge treatment practices are supported by its state-of-the-art IT network that includes fully electronic patient medical records, as well as a group-wide practice management system delivered as a software as a service solution. Between these critical Internet-dependent applications and the company's standard business communication needs, Wilshire Oncology has successfully leveraged the power of instantaneous data transfer to facilitate the most efficient treatment for its patients - patients for whom time is an exceptionally precious commodity. A delay in the receipt of critical test results or in the transmission of prescriptions due to an IT failure can directly impact patients' care and comfort.

PLATFORMS: We use Paessler AG's PRTG Network Monitor to monitor Windows 2000 and 2003 servers, Windows XP workstations, network hardware and battery backups. PRTG monitors applications and services, including: Exchange, Sybase SQL Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Citrix XenApp and several third-party interfaces.

PROBLEM SOLVED: PRTG allows me to monitor the uptime, quality, speed and reliability of critical data connections between our corporate headquarters and 10 remote facilities. With 350 remote sensors deployed across the company's network, PRTG monitors the Wilshire Oncology network not only for Internet connectivity and VPN connections between the corporate offices and remote locations, but also the speed and reliability of connections with its third-party vendors, battery backups, 18 physical servers, nine virtual machines and even some individual workstations. A built-in automatic reporting system delivers specific reports to me via email on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to help me keep track of normal operating status and spot any abnormal trends. In the event of a problem with a vendor-supplied application, I can use PRTG to generate a report illustrating the memory usage on a server or decreased transmission speed, for example, and supply this data via email to the vendor for troubleshooting purposes. In the event of an actual outage, network traffic slowdown or any other noteworthy event, PRTG automatically alerts me via email, so that I can begin to immediately diagnose the problem. With multiple locations and limited resources, this allows me to work much more efficiently to resolve issues, saving both time and money in troubleshooting, travel and even hardware/software upgrades.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We use Paessler AG's PRTG Network Monitor to keep tabs on vital data connections, servers, applications and even some workstations.

STRENGTHS: As medical offices continue to embrace technology, there is a growing demand to ensure the most efficient use of that technology. PRTG helps us to identify real needs, justify the costs of upgrades, and decide where to make IT investments that will do the most good.

WEAKNESSES: PRTG uses the Windows Management Instrumentation to communicate with the clients. This makes deployment and maintenance simple. However, sometimes WMI isn’t reliable on Windows 2000 boxes, depending upon the particular items being monitored. For example, we’ve had problems with pagefile usage and CPU load. PRTG has been very reliable when monitoring 2003 and XP boxes.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In choosing PRTG, value was a significant concern. There's plenty of monitoring software available, but I was looking for the best value. Paessler has proven that good monitoring software doesn't need to be expensive.

DELIVERABLES: PRTG has paid for itself, both in labor expenses and hardware costs. The data PRTG has provided has helped identify an application memory leak, in addition to a bad piece of network equipment. The data and reports have also supported the decision to virtualize several servers.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The few times we’ve needed support from Paessler, they were very responsive.

DOCUMENTATION: PRTG is well designed and has a good layout. The documentation is well written and easy to use. Paessler’s website features a Knowledge Base along with video tutorials.

PRTG Network Monitor
Paessler AG
Burgschmietstr. 10
90419 Nuremberg

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