Compuware Corp. in Farmington Hills, Mich., today announced a set of improvements to its NetworkVantage application performance management tools, including the ability to monitor who's using instant messaging applications and how much Web traffic they generate.
Corporate IT managers are just beginning to weigh bandwidth and security issues associated with instant messaging (IM), so tools that monitor their use are a first step toward adding protections, said Richard Ptak, an analyst at Ptak & Associates Inc. in Amherst, N.H.
"There's a lot of IT managers who won't put up IM, or allow it, because integrating it is almost on the level of e-mail spam," he said. "Conserving bandwidth is the big worry, since everybody in business is doing more with less today."
That's not to say that real-time text messaging is not a legitimate business tool, Ptak and one IT manager said. But many organizations are at the early stages of gauging its business value and its ability to burden networks.
"IM is not only a security risk, but it could be a bandwidth issue, and any time you are able to isolate traffic, that is a great thing," said Todd Birkenholtz,a network analyst at FBL Financial Group Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa.
FBL has used NetworkVantage since early last year to do real-time application monitoring in its wide-area network, which includes more than 350 frame relay connections operating at 56K bit/sec. across much of the U.S., Birkenholtz said. By using the product, FBL can determine whether network traffic is Web- or e-mail- or application-related. That, Birkenholtz said, helps the company plan future WAN designs, especially those for handling peak traffic periods.
Although instant messaging is apparently not yet used much at FBL, adding the new monitoring feature could be useful, he said.
Compuware officials said NetworkVantage's IM discovery feature will report on traffic generated by IM tools from various vendors, including American Online Inc., Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and IBM. It doesn't detect Short Messaging Service traffic and doesn't support wireless uses.
Other product enhancements Compuware announced include network security breach analysis and support for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) for faster traffic routing. The MPLS support was designed to help an enterprise validate whether a data carrier is meeting service level agreements for throughput and performance.
NetworkVantage pricing starts at US$26,500.