Optimal Networks Sale Sharpens Compuware's Tools

FRAMINGHAM (07/27/2000) - The sale of Optimal Networks Corp. to Compuware Corp. should be a winning proposition for information technology departments that want to use the same tools to predict and monitor an application's performance from inception through production, analysts said.

Although the two companies have been occasional competitors, the overlap in functionality of their tools "is more apparent than real," said Dennis Drogseth, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.

Terms of the sale, which was announced last week, weren't disclosed.

The tools from Optimal in Mountain View, Calif., add application-performance monitoring to Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Compuware's EcoSystem network modeling tools suite. Compuware's $40 million purchase last November of Arlington, Va.-based CACI International Inc.'s Comnet added network capacity planning capabilities to Compuware's tools.

Let the Expert Decide

"IT application caretakers will really benefit if Compuware can do more to correlate EcoScope, EcoPredictor [the CACI network planner] and Optimal's Application Expert and turn their QA-Load test tool into an active endpoint agent simulating user activity for these tools," said Patrick Dryden, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H.

Compuware will use the integrated suite of tools in its eDynamic Service and test the concept of becoming a management service provider that manages and monitors networks for customers, said Elisabeth Rainge, an analyst at International Data Corp. (IDC) in Framingham, Mass.

Optimal's best-known tool is its Application Expert, which captures entire sessions on an application, allowing managers to view the application's performance step by step. The integration of Application Expert into EcoSystem will aid communications by letting application developers and application and network managers use the same tools, said Paul Bugala, an IDC analyst.

As an IT manager, "I've used the Optimal tools at two different companies," said Jean-Pierre Garbani, now an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. "I'd talk with the application people and ask them what infrastructure they required to support the application. Most of the time, they didn't know."

Garbani said Application Expert will let him determine those requirements before putting an application into use.

Optimal last year formed a strategic partnership with Aprisma Management Technologies in Durham, N.H. Patrick Kelly, Aprisma's product management director, described how Application Expert works: "Say [the application] works fine over the LAN but not when you run it on the WAN," he said. The software lets a manager play back the session and see what caused the delay. "No one else has taken that approach," Kelly said.

Optimal's Application Expert; Application Vantage, an application performance troubleshooting tool; and Application Preview, a tool for gauging an application's bandwidth requirements, are available now and are priced at $20,000, $35,000 and $15,000, respectively.

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