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HoundDog review

Verdict

Reasonably priced and effective, HoundDog is the king of remote monitoring, although only of Windows servers.

Review Date: 6 Dec 2007

Reviewed By: Ian Parsons

Price when reviewed: per server, per month minimum

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Although a product called HoundDog is asking to be subjected to any number of bad puns, this product is no dog. Using fully redundant secure servers, HoundDog's software can provide remote monitoring and management facilities for any number of Windows systems. Although primarily used to monitor server systems, the software can also keep an eye on ordinary PC systems that normally run unattended.

Since the system is web based, it can be used to monitor servers in any location. This isn't only useful where there are multiple server installations in different places, but also for companies that provide support for several clients' servers. Sadly, HoundDog supports only Windows servers at present, which limits its usefulness to some extent.

HoundDog can monitor a wide range of system attributes, such as CPU performance, disk space, antivirus signature files and event log entries. And when needed, it can generate an alert using both email and SMS messages.

It's also possible to monitor the current status of any system using the Dashboard display. This can be accessed from any location using Internet Explorer or Firefox. All communications between the managed servers and HoundDog's servers are encrypted using SSL.

Adding a system to HoundDog's list of monitored systems is easy. A simple software agent is installed, which then runs as a Windows service to monitor the system. You can't install the server-monitoring software remotely, but it's easy to download the correct agent from the central servers.

As long as the agent can make contact with the HoundDog servers, its system can be monitored. If a system fails to make contact or another monitored parameter exceeds its limits, the HoundDog servers will trigger an alert. The system's status is updated in the Dashboard display, and problem systems are easily identified. A simplified mini-dashboard is also available for use with any mobile phone. Unlike some other web-based monitoring systems such as SCO's HipCheck, HoundDog is completely contained on the server and needs no client software installed on a mobile phone. Although this means practically any mobile phone can be used, the mini-dashboard can be awkward to use on a phone without a keyboard. If the technician wants to use a laptop to deal with the alert, there will need to be an internet connection or Wi-Fi hotspot available.

The reporting system covers important information such as critical events, fault history and costs, and reports can be generated in various formats including PDF and CSV.

The system offers a remote access facility using Terminal Services, VNC or NetSupport Manager software. This allows a remote connection to the target system to be made via the HoundDog website, eliminating the need to open up ports in the firewall to get remote access to the server or local access.

Offering a web-based server-monitoring service for Microsoft Windows-based systems, HoundDog can manage widely separated servers from almost any location while keeping costs to a minimum.

Author: Ian Parsons

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