Shunra's Stratus gives app developers network insight

In an effort to shrink the gap between ongoing application development and network performance issues that invariably arise after deployment, Shunra Software next week will launch Shunra\Stratus, its new desktop network readiness software tool.

Stratus is a client-server product that allows application developers to create at the touch of a mouse click a virtual WAN between their desktops and application servers to gauge the impact of the immature application code and software modules on network infrastructure characteristics, said Benny Daon, co-founder and CEO of New York-based Shunra.

Shunra's newest solution consists of two components, a small desk tray item that transforms a Microsoft Windows-based machine to an end workstation, and a centralized server that holds network configuration and definition files which can be downloaded.

"The networking team is usually very well aware of the parameters of a network and what should be tested. Software developers don't usually have insight into that," said Daon. "We're seeing in many cases that the application gets to production when it's immature. Applications have to be less chatty and much more optimized."

Daon said that the server component of Stratus will enable a company's networking team to design a network using complex emulations or network functions to which a developer only need choose the right file name to activate it -- essentially, going into a tray item and hitting "play."

Developers are provided with three options of configuring the virtual WAN scenario through Stratus. Pre-loaded virtual WAN files can be downloaded from Stratus' central repository, basic parameters can be manually set, or product WAN parameters can be imported.

Glenn O'Donnell, program director of service management strategies at Meta Group, said the market "desperately needs" a tool such as Shunra/Stratus to allow developers to easily simulate a networking environment on their own.

"Application development is done in a vacuum, and that needs to be broken down," said O'Donnell.

The Meta analyst said it's not difficult to envision Shunra's Stratus technology expanding to a Web services model, where components of software are scattered over many locations dictating a much wider emulated WAN link to gauge interrelated application and network performance.

Coincidentally, Shunra's CEO noted that his organization is in fact at work on a new Web services product potentially slated for late 2003. The technology will be able to record and play back characteristics of a network connection between a datacenter and multiple remote servers, including a central server and all other servers it utilizes to enable Web services.

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