Outsourced Network Monitoring Debuted

SAN MATEO (07/25/2000) - Former executives of Excite@Home Inc. and Global Crossing Ltd. announced the formation of a company called NOCpulse, which later this year will provide operational support services to IT organizations running corporate Web sites.

Backed by US$12 million in venture funding, the company plans to use a mix of open-source and internally developed tools to monitor the performance of systems and networks that reside in a customer's Web site.

"Our service will allow people to be proactive, rather than reactive," said the company's president, Paul Santinelli, who was formerly with broadband services provider Global Crossing, based in Hamilton, Bermuda. "At most sites today, nobody knows what services are running on what machines, so it becomes a change-control night-mare."

By making use of open-source tools that were designed for the Web, NOCpulse, in Sunnyvale, Calif., expects to be able to offer a service that can scale far more than other offerings that make use of network management tools from companies such as Computer Associates International Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Tivoli Systems Inc., or BMC.

According to Jon Prall, senior vice president of technology at NOCpulse, existing network management tools rely on agent technology that does not scale up to handle hundreds of servers that are distributed across the Internet. As a result, the array of tools available today, which have their roots in client/server technologies, are not effective solutions for people running a business that is based on the perfor-mance of widely distributed servers, said Prall, who was formerly with San Mateo, Calif.-based ISP Excite@Home.

"It's a valuable tool; without [NOCpulse], you have to do these things [internally]," said Boogie Shafer, director of Internet operations at Escalate, an e-commerce service provider based in Redwood Shores, Calif. "Monitoring lends itself particularly well to [this service model] because the software available is mostly a skeleton framework -- you have to do most of the work to add to it."

Shafer said that NOCpulse's outsourcing-type service can help address time-to-market issues for companies that have not yet set up a network monitoring system or are just realizing their management needs.

"Being an aggregator or service provider, they have some econ-omies of scale that you, as a single company, can't offer," Shafer added. "Honestly, the biggest cost in [a monitoring system] is implementation and deployment. At the end of the day, we know our cost, and the question will be are they able to price their service lower and still stay in business? I think they'll be able to do that pretty well."

NOCPulse executives are expecting to be able to offer a monitoring service for an around-the-clock Web site operation at about one-fifth to one-half the cost of what it would take an IT department to provide a similar service internally, according to NOCpulse president Santinelli.

Stephanie Sanborn contributed to this article.

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