NetScout tackles voice over IP and VPNs

NetScout Systems Inc. last week released an upgrade to its performance management product that industry observers say can help those users just starting to manage and secure their combined voice and data networks.

NetScout's nGenius Real-Time Monitor Version 1.2 (RTM) now lets users monitor the performance and service levels of their converged voice, video and data networks. With its new voice over IP, voice over frame relay and VPN capabilities, RTM users can track aggregated traffic flows across a network and perform Web-based packet analysis. RTM is installed on either a Unix or Windows NT dedicated server, and probes are installed on network devices, such as Web servers and frame relay links. Users access the data collected by RTM via a Web browser.

RTM depends on NetScout application probes that analyze packets and notify users of network latency and performance problems before a bottleneck affects an end user. Designed for monitoring e-business applications, the company says RTM Version 1.2 helps users manage the service levels their network delivers to end users over the Web.

Version 1.2 includes: a traffic monitor that performs fault isolation and provides users with drill-down screens to further pinpoint the source of network congestion; a packet analyzer to help users troubleshoot network problems; and a performance monitor that tracks application and Web site response and transaction times. Users also can choose application response time or content response-time MIBs that measure the response times of application conversations on a network and monitor Web site traffic and volume of traffic, respectively.

More enterprise companies are offering their products and services via the Internet and need to offer customers a secure connection to their back-office information, says Paul Bugala, an analyst with IDC. The change in companies' business model is driving the use of VPNs, he says, and users need tools to move from their existing frame relay networks to secure VPNs.

"NetScout is one of the few vendors with a combination of packet analysis and performance management of voice over IP on its own," Bugala says. "And performance management of this latency-sensitive traffic is also one of gating factors for enterprise voice over IP. In turn, the external dependencies that VPNs create also introduce management risks that have been unknown to IT before now."

NetScout's nGenius RTM 1.2 is available now and costs US$15,000 per server. RTM Plus Version 1.2, which includes Performance Monitor, costs $50,000 per server.

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