Visual plots a course to develop analysis software

Visual Networks Inc. is laying out a 3-year plan to expand its products beyond the frame relay, ATM and IP monitoring software that is the company's bedrock.

The company says it will continue to push its performance-monitoring software into other vendors' products and make the data it gathers available to other applications, such as service provider operations and support systems. Earlier this year, ADC Telecommunications Inc. announced it will include Visual's ATM agents in ADC access products.

In addition, Visual will develop applications that analyze reports produced by its software so large enterprises and service providers can improve network capacity planning and problem troubleshooting.

And Visual says it plans open software interfaces between its applications and Web browsers, and third party reporting and management software. The company is also working on XML interfaces for its performance-reporting software so performance reports can be accessed via Web browsers. Currently, data collected by its probes is only accessible via a proprietary application programming interface.

The company's core products, VisualUpTime, IPInsight and Visual eWatcher, consist of probes that gather network performance data and software that turns the data into reports. These reports can be used to measure whether service level agreements are being met and to track down where problems exist in networks.

The company has already expaned its IP capabilities to support monitoring of Multiprotocol Label Switching traffic. This tracks IP traffic from site to site across public IP networks as if it were monitoring a virtual ciruit. The company also plans to build IPInsight into hardware appliances that can be placed at individual user sites to track performance.

Visual will also develop performance analysis software sometime after next year that will focus on IP, voice over IP and mobile data traffic.

Last year, after plummeting revenue and disastrous earnings, Visual abandoned its push into enterprises to go back to providing tools for service providers. It laid off 140 employees and closed two sites.

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