Response Networks targets service-level management

Response Networks this week announced the availability of Pulsar xSP 1.5, its new service-level management tool designed to spot potential SLA (service-level agreement) violations and monitor all SLA activity by client and service policy through a Web-based portal.

Directed at the service provider community, Pulsar xSP enhancements include an automated SLA early warning alert system for account and business managers and an SLA report card featuring real-time snapshots and historical analysis, said Phil Hollows, vice president of product marketing for North Andover, Mass.-based Response.

Pulsar xSP is designed to tackle and monitor a more complex, high-bandwidth breed of services being sought by customers as part of a software delivery package, such as VOIP (voice over IP), encryption-heavy VPNs (virtual private networks), and Openwave e-mail implementations.

According to Hollis, Response's monitoring product is built on industry standards including XML, HTTP, and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), allowing service providers to perform a number of tests and deliver metrics around application performance and network operations through testing points either in-house -- to monitor outsourced services being delivered -- or behind firewalls at customer sites.

"If you look at an SLA in terms of network quality, if there's a violation a provider has to prove they're not responsible. We can resolve some of those finger-pointing issues," Hollows said. "[Pulsar xSP] has SNMP device statistics, such as CPU utilization, also SNMP from Oracle, BEA Weblogic, Microsoft SQL Server, and end-user transactions, [as well as] full Web and full database transaction capability."

Indeed, enterprise customers are dictating better service-level management on the part of service providers to the tune of more stringent SLA contract demands with little margin for discrepancy, said Jasmine Noel, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based Hurwitz Group Inc.

"SLAs are binding business agreements. It defines the relationship between a service provider and customer. If you can't meet your SLA, you're not going to be profitable or stay in business very long," Noel said. "[Vendors] like Response Networks are trying to give service providers a proactive way of knowing if their SLAs are in danger in one way or another."

Noel cautioned that service providers' customers must pose difficult questions when drawing up service delivery expectations as part of an SLA, such as inquiring about current customer interviews, examining how the service provider's infrastructure management team delivers a particular process, and finding out how problems are solved.

Pulsar xSP is currently shipping. Pricing is set at US$40,000 for a server license and 20 software agents.

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