Network management vendors tout managed services

Network management vendors are adding managed services to their portfolios, chasing customers wrestling with complex, distributed systems and the migration headaches associated with adopting high-speed IP services.

Targeting large and geographically distributed enterprises, service providers, and telecommunications companies, Concord Communications Inc. on Monday announced eHealth 5.5.

The newest version of the company's fault and performance management software enhances the product's scalability to allow service providers to deliver to the enterprise client an integrated view of all the managed services delivered to them, said Brian Burba, vice president and service provider marketing of Marlboro, Mass.-based Concord Communications.

Also on Monday, management service provider (MSP) Vanguard Managed Solutions announced its outsourced Careguard services program as an alternative to in-house network management implementations. The program features a five-step guide to network assembly and maintenance, including strategy, design, implementation, operations, and support to pinpoint and resolve issues at any point during the network management lifecycle.

A renewed focus on managed services has surfaced as customers search for ways to squeeze greater functionality from existing infrastructure and minimize the "chasing fires" grunt work synonymous with network management and software monitoring, said Sandra Palumbo, communications analyst for Boston-based Yankee Group.

"Networks have gotten a lot more complex, and the more complex it is the more time it takes to manage," Palumbo said. "You also have businesses that are migrating technology from lower-speed bandwidth. There's a new focus on IP services and IP VPNs [virtual private networks]. IP services are inherently more complex to work with then frame relay and ATM."

Palumbo said customers are increasingly concerned about making their telecommunications and connectivity providers accountable if the network goes down. Because most companies use multiple carriers, delegating responsibility and pinpointing cause for the disruption can be a tricky proposition. She said MSPs such as Vanguard Managed Solutions LLC offer a cost-effective alternative and centralized point of network performance reporting and analysis.

Through Careguard, VanguardMS helps customers evaluate bandwidth options, IT processes, and resource issues; apply predictive network management; and learn more about network operations from devices to carrier services, said Laura Whitcher, director of services marketing for Mansfield, Mass.-based VanguardMS.

Concord's Burba said eHealth 5.5 can scale to manage and monitor 1 million elements within a globally distributed infrastructure while still offering administrators a centralized console to manage any specific or all network areas.eHealth 5.5 will be available at the end of the month.

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