Management Software Takes to the Web

Keeping tabs on network management and performance should get easier this week, as several vendors update their management tools with Web-based interfaces at ComNet 2000 in Washington, D.C.

Aprisma Management Technologies (formerly Cabletron's Spectrum business unit) will unveil software that lets help-desk operators view and change the status of alarms generated through the Spectrum network management platform. NetScout Systems will update its WebCast reporting software, with a high-level report intended to provide an overview of network performance for executive managers.

The announcements follow FirstSense's shipment of Web-based reports for its FirstSense Enterprise software last week. FirstSense, which last week agreed to be acquired by Concord Communications Inc., says its software measures how quickly end users are able to complete transactions, and now the results of the measurements can be accessed from a browser.

Making management information available through a Web browser means that people with less training can access the information, says Trent Waterhouse, director of product marketing at Aprisma. Most users can navigate Web pages more easily than a vendor's management client software, he says.

Web-based management is also good for sharing information in a standard way among different management tools, notes Elizabeth Rainge, research manager for network management at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. If XML and the Common Information Model (CIM) are used to represent management data to a Web interface, data from multiple sources can be combined. "XML is a major technology for the data management market," Rainge says.

Aprisma is using XML and CIM to pull data from Cisco's CiscoWorks management software along with data from its own Spectrum software. Because the details of how to represent data in CIM haven't all been ironed out, Aprisma had to work directly with Cisco for this integration, Waterhouse says.

The company's new product, Web Operator, continuously shows network alarms in a "stock-ticker" format, he says. Users can click on a message and get details about the trouble. They can also acknowledge and clear a trouble ticket once the problem behind it has been solved.

Web Operator is shipping now, starting at $5,000. It runs on Solaris and Windows NT.

Separately, NetScout's new edition of WebCast includes a "newspaper-style" report available through a browser, the company says. Version 3.1 can create a front page aimed at high-level executives, showing total traffic volume, and traffic trends broken down by protocol and application. The top under and overutilized network segments are also noted.

The report should make it easier for network managers to share information with less technical employees, NetScout says. More detailed information is still available for network managers. The new version is shipping now, for $4,500.

FirstSense lets network managers set up reports, which its software can now publish as Web pages. This way, people throughout an enterprise can access the reports and find out how well the company's applications are responding. These pages can be updated hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. The product is shipping now, starting at $25,000.

In related news, Micromuse this week will ship a slightly enhanced version of its Netcool/FireWall-1 software.

The application collects security information from Check Point Software firewalls and displays it in Micromuse's Netcool management tool. Version 1.1 of the application runs on Windows NT and adds customizable filters, letting network managers specify what traffic patterns might indicate a security breach.

Micromuse will also announce the Netcool Developers Alliance. Vendors in the alliance use the company's software development kit to write programs to exchange management data between Netcool and their own management products.

Initial members include Aprisma, Architel Systems, Heroix, InfoVista, Integrated Research, Juniper Networks, Mediation Technologies, NDG Software, Packeteer, Pegasystems and Veritas.

Aprisma: www.aprisma.com; FirstSense: www.firstsense.com; Micromuse: www. micromuse.com; NetScout: www.netscout.com.

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