App uses particle physics model for corporate analysis

Network Physics Inc. last week launched a network management appliance that relies on high-energy particle physics experiments to help companies better manage large corporate networks.

The Network Physics NP/BizFlow-1000 has been in early use at several large financial services companies, including Dusseldorf, Germany-based West LB AG, one of the 10 largest commercial banks globally, said John Lamberti, West LB's network services manager for North and South America.

The appliance has been used by 500 global employees at West LB since October, monitoring network perimeter traffic, including Internet and extranet traffic from vendor peers, he said. "It was capturing data on our network within 30 minutes of opening the box," Lamberti said.

The tool allows him to monitor traffic passing in and out of his region to see which traffic is associated with a particular user or network port, "which is very helpful when troubleshooting network anomalies," he said. It also provides flexibility with a Web-based front end, meaning Lamberti can easily share traffic information without having to install a client on PCs in other regions, he said.

Lamberti has had two of the Network Physics appliances installed in the New York area since October, cutting the time needed for troubleshooting jobs from hours to minutes. Lamberti said he has been able to show some business units that application slowdowns were not due to network bandwidth constraints but were instead caused by application server problems.

The appliance also showed him that in the company's Los Angeles office, Lamberti needed to upgrade bandwidth to help some users work more efficiently.

Dennis Drogseth, an analyst at Network Management Associates in Boulder, Colo., said the techniques used by Network Physics to analyze how applications perform across networks is unusual. "What's new is how they analyze and gather the data, and it's very unusual technology with strong flexibility and extensibility," he said. "It's very exciting where they can go with this."

Network Physics said the BizFlow software in the appliance is based on high-energy particle physics experiments that analyzed massive amounts of complex and changing data to spot trends.

Drogseth said Network Physics could face market challenges because its product is "not real cheap." Network Physics said the NP/BizFlow-1000 starts at US$50,000, with an average installation in the US$100,000-US$200,000 range. It is available now.

Lamberti paid less because he is an early adopter, but he wouldn't disclose how much.

Drogseth said Network Physics competes with several network management companies that provide customers with "flow-based network management" as opposed to management tools that look at devices or application performance. Those competitors include NetQoS Inc. in Austin, Packeteer Inc. in Cupertino, Calif., and Visual Networks Inc. in Rockville, Md.

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