NetWorld+Interop - RiverSoft looks to manage MPLS nets

At NetWorld+Interop next week, net management software maker RiverSoft PLC will unveil a package the company claims can help service providers and large enterprises monitor voice and data applications on MPLS networks.

RiverSoft's Network Management Operating System (NMOS) and Fault Manager Version 3.1 now support an add-on agent for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), which will be endorsed by Cisco. Cisco and RiverSoft teamed up to develop software that can extract MPLS data from Management Information Bases (MIB).

RiverSoft then added agents to automatically discover MPLS VPNs and quickly pinpoint network-performance problems with MPLS-specific alerts. And Cisco updated the MIBs in its network equipment to let RiverSoft display the MPLS information in a topology map, RiverSoft says.

RiverSoft's NMOS technology includes object classes that enable the RiverSoft discovery system to collect connectivity information from devices used in IP networks. MPLS uses labels containing forwarding information, which are attached to IP packets by a router. The MPLS Forum, an organization looking to speed up MPLS adoption, says the technology can better ensure quality of service with voice, video and data applications on IP networks because it will deliver packets over the same route and in the correct order on a network backbone.

The NMOS system uses server software and distributed agents to collect and reconcile conflicting information about network devices. The software stores a consistent topography of those devices in the topography database. The classes let users define the behavior and characteristics of devices, what information they want to pull from the devices and how they want to extract the data. The last release, Version 3.0 released last July, included a central management console from which administrators could monitor their networks.

The new products show RiverSoft's intentions to address some management concerns challenging service providers, says Meta Group Program Director Glenn O'Donnell. "MPLS is one of those technologies you cannot roll out and use properly until you have a management solution in place," O'Donnell says. "RiverSoft is trying to address this because management of MPLS technology cannot be an afterthought."

MPLS is not yet commonplace among carriers, never mind in the enterprise companies RiverSoft once targeted. Although still in the adoption stage, industry watchers speculate that MPLS replace ATM or frame relay in multiservice networks.

Fault Manager is the product, and NMOS is the code that Fault Manager uses. RiverSoft separated the two so that it could sell its NMOS technology through licensing agreements with companies such as Intel, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard. Intel included NMOS technology in its NetStructure Management Appliances in September 2000. HP announced a version of its Network Node Manager last November that included RiverSoft's Layer 2 discovery feature found in NMOS, and NMOS was included in a pilot run of CiscoWorks mobile wireless products in March 2001.

RiverSoft NMOS and Fault Manager Version 3.1 are shipping with prices beginning at US$100,000, depending on network size. The MPLS advanced management agents are available as add-ons.

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