It was at the end of October when we released our PRTG Network Monitor Release 20.4.63 as a stable release. Some of you are probably already working with the latest version, all others can't wait to click on "update" after this article. :) But first things first.
In my last article I introduced the new OPC UA sensors in PRTG Network Monitor. Today I would like to introduce the new Modbus TCP Custom sensor, which has also been available since version 20.4.63. Compared to others, Modbus TCP is one of the most established protocols to enable communication between industrial machines and devices.
The digitization or digitalization of established industrial processes can be called by numerous fancy names, the most common one being "Industry 4.0". This name is so appealing to many due to its idea of continuity. The first industrial revolution was mechanization by means of water and steam power. The second one was characterized by mass production using assembly lines and electrical energy. And the third one (digital revolution) was the use of electronics and IT to automate production. It is often true that the fancier the name, the more half-baked or too theoretical the idea is. This is really not the case with Industry 4.0. But if you want to get even basic information on this topic for the first time from the Internet, you have to dig deep into the dense buzzword jungle to find reliable details. Hence the idea for this article. My suggestion: You read this article, and I spare you buzzword terms like Fourth Industrial Revolution, IIoT, M2M, or whatever. Deal?
Since version 20.4.63, PRTG Network Monitor includes 2 new sensors, the OPC UA Server Status sensor and the OPC UA Custom sensor. These two sensors allow you to monitor OPC UA servers as well as individual values of up to 5 nodes.
In the world of industrial IT, there have traditionally been two kinds of monitoring solutions: those for monitoring the IT aspects, and those for monitoring the Operational Technology (OT) aspects. But convergence in industrial IT — which is bringing IT and OT together — requires a more unified view. And it's this unified view that PRTG Network Monitor can provide with new capabilities for monitoring OT. PRTG is the perfect holistic monitoring system for your plant due to its powerful IT monitoring, support for several common industrial protocols, and a license that does not limit you regarding the number of users (PRTG is licensed by the number of sensors, or "data collectors" you need). Watch the video below and read on for a detailed look at just how PRTG is a good fit for industrial IT environments.
When critical incidents happen in IT or production, every minute counts. PRTG already helps you to monitor your systems and to detect issues. However, workers are not able to sit in front of a dashboard all the time. An email alert easily gets lost in the sea of other emails. An SMS message might not be loud enough to wake somebody up at night.
I guess the following article might be interesting for some of you with a larger PRTG installation. Up until recently (i.e. until August 2020), we at Paessler had provided support for installing PRTG on a VM with up to a maximum of 5,000 sensors or, more precisely, a sensor range of 2,500-5,000 sensors. In practice, this corresponds to an average of about 500 monitored devices and is still supported as per our PRTG system requirements.
One of the biggest challenges with monitoring enterprise IT — which we define as environments with over 1.000 devices — is getting a unified overview. In such large environments, you almost certainly have several monitoring servers collecting data from different parts of your infrastructure. This leads to all kinds of problems, such as alert noise or multiple monitoring tools; but the biggest issue is that it causes you to lose sight of the overview. When this happens, you can't gauge the health of your entire infrastructure at a glance anymore. But how do you bring data from multitudes of devices and sources in different locations into one centralized overview?
The production environment continues to prepare for a digital, more efficient future. In this sector, digitization or digitalization are often paraphrased with the somewhat cryptic, but ultimately meaningful terms greenfield and brownfield. While a greenfield industrial plant is built on a "greenfield site", completely new and according to specific ideas, a brownfield scenario is one where an existing plant is being digitally modernized. It is obvious that brownfield (or retrofitting - the two terms are often used interchangeably) is the much more attractive choice for most existing plants. This article is part 1/2 of a short series on the topic of retrofitting.
Back in the mists of time (March 2019), I wrote a blog post describing how a REST Custom sensor can be used to read energy consumption data from a Sonoff POW2 smart switch. One of the cool features provided by the Tasmota custom firmware used in that project is support for the MQTT protocol.
Just before the release of PRTG Network Monitor 20.3.61, Microsoft renamed its powerful software suite from Office 365 to Microsoft 365. Therefore, the two new sensor types are now called Microsoft 365 Service Status Sensor and Microsoft 365 Service Status Advanced Sensor.
Enterprise IT — which we (Paessler) loosely define as infrastructure with over 1,000 devices — is a special beast to manage, with many challenges to overcome. One of the biggest issues that IT teams in these large environments face is alert noise. This happens when you're monitoring your infrastructure, network, storage, cloud services and other elements of your IT, and generating alerts and notifications for failures or impending failures. Too much alert noise makes it downright difficult to identify serious problems, and it might even mean ignoring alerts and missing what really matters. Your monitoring efforts are compromised, and the quality of your service goes down.
The way people work in offices has been changing constantly ever since offices came into existence, although transformation is dependent to a certain extent on culture. The concepts of open-plan design, which right from the start were successful in North America, have had a hard time in Europe. Ideas such as remote work have taken a long time to gain recognition in the minds of Europeans as a valid means to an end, whereas already in 2010, President Obama signed the Telework Enhancement Act, requiring all federal agencies to create policies for eligible employees to work remotely. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of fully-remote US companies jumped from 26 to 170. Also in 2018, 53% of the world’s population worked remotely for at least half the week. As so often in history certain unforeseen events serve as a catalyst for further development. In addition to the catastrophic effects of the coronavirus crisis on all of us, office work has been reinterpreted around the globe. We at Paessler have not been exempt from this phenomenon. In some blog articles at the beginning of the crisis, we already shared with you how we have continued our work with the usual standard of quality and are always there for our customers; just not in the office – but from home. This article is partly a personal report, partly a description of how we at Paessler are working during the "time of corona" and how we will work in the future.
After our last release in August with 5 brand new sensor types, PRTG version 20.3.62 again brings a lot of new features. Besides improvements in the context menu and a new notification method, we are happy to present no less than six new sensor types! These are as follows:
Do you remember the summer of 2019, when we danced together at music festivals, populated beaches and went to the supermarket without being counted at the entrance? And all of this without a face mask? In 2020, many things have changed. Suddenly there is this fear of the virus, you pick up the word "Corona" in just about every conversation and much of the former easygoingness is suddenly gone.