Net management wises up

Network managers are about to get a couple of smarter management tools.

Computer Associates International last week began shipping software agents, dubbed Neugents, that can learn. Separately, Concord this week will unveil products that more intelligently extract data from Cisco devices.

Promised last April, CA's Neugents reside on servers or workstations and help make up a neural network, the company says. Neural networks are designed to work like biological neurons to learn and recognise patterns.

Over a period of a few weeks, Neugents learn the normal network or server behaviour. Using the learned behaviour as a guideline, an agent can make predictions about when systems might fail. The Neugent product now shipping focuses on performance, so it looks at response times, transaction volumes and other telltale performance signs. From these indications, a Neugent predicts when systems will experience performance problems, and it generates an alert.

"The more data you feed a Neugent, the smarter it gets," says Tony Navarro, manager of systems management at Allegiance Healthcare in Illinois. "It gives us an opportunity to be proactive in our management instead of reactive."

"The predictions that were made were 100 per cent reliable, and we never had to deal with false predictions," says Sorrel Jakins, director of server systems at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, which has been beta-testing the agents.

Future Neugents will help in areas such as asset management, security administration, storage utilisation and capacity planning.

Neugents are used in conjunction with CA's network and systems management platform, Unicenter TNG. Neugents are also one of three major ingredients of the next version of TNG, Unicenter The Next Dimension (TND). The new version of TNG also provides a way to view the status of the network and systems at different points, and includes an improved user interface. TND is scheduled to ship next year.

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