NetQoS offers cop service for corporate networks

IT managers exasperated by out-of-control network traffic who are about to throw bandwidth at the problem are the target audience for a new combination of software and services from NetQoS Inc. in Austin, Texas.

NetQoS works with organizations to identify problems and create relevant network usage profiles, which can be defined based on application or user, said Joel Trammel, the company's CEO.

Running on a Web server on an organization's internal network, NetQoS's NQVisionQuest uses data from the customer's existing Simple Network Management Protocol probes to create near-real-time reports on usage.

New York-based Schlumberger Ltd. began using the reporting function in January last year. "We'd instrumented our network with 43 wide-area probes around the world," said Maged Elmenshawy, a senior engineer at the energy services company, also in Austin. "But we didn't have an easy way to access that information or understand what it means."

The NetQoS traffic reports are accessible via Web browser, making them easy to use from anywhere, which is critical for a network as large as Schlumberger's, he said.

The reports update on a continuous cycle. "The data is pregenerated. It's always waiting there for us to grab it -- no waiting for queries," Elmenshawy said.

When he first began using the tool, Elmenshawy said, he "found all sorts of interesting things." For example, a network backup that was supposedly running at night was found to be running during peak hours, saturating ports. Schlumberger was able to use its routers to throttle the backup and let through critical application traffic, Elmenshawy said.

Another NQVisionQuest user became aware of 20GB of daily wide-area network traffic from internal users downloading MP3 music files and external users pulling MP3 files from employee PCs, according to Trammel. Instead of increasing bandwidth, the company simply shut down the MP3 traffic.

"I've talked with [NQVisionQuest] users," said Dennis Drogseth, an analyst at Enterprise Management Systems Inc. in Boulder, Colo. "They like the robustness of the analysis, the flexibility, the scalability, the mapping to their organization."

Each customer is assigned a NetQoS support person who can use remote monitoring tools over a virtual private network or other secure connection to monitor the company's network and help tune it on a weekly basis.

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