Live Health Tool Aims to Streamline Management

FRAMINGHAM (07/13/2000) - Concord Communications Inc.'s Live Health reporting tool, released last month, will filter extraneous alarms and show information technology managers current network, systems and application monitoring data in a historical context, said a company spokesman.

Live Health combines real-time and historical data, filters it to reflect the performance of all the applications and other IT systems needed to perform specific business processes and then produces reports for managers who monitor all three IT areas, said Kevin Conklin, marketing vice president at the Marlboro, Mass.-based company.

"Live Health [runs on] Solaris and does what we were looking for - statistical analysis of network traffic," said Todd Whipple, an internetworking specialist at Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa.

Live Health is a combination of Concord's own Net-work Health reporting tool, its recently acquired real-time monitoring and reporting tool from First Sense Software Inc. and its recently acquired system and application management tool from Empire Technologies Inc.

Such merging of management data reflects a long overdue trend, according to Dennis Drogseth, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates Inc. in Boulder, Colo.

Going further and filtering out extraneous data should help managers, said Paul Bugala, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. "It's hard to staff a network operations center," he said, "so anything you can do to simplify things is good."

The trade-off, Bugala said, is that "with Concord, you're not going to get help desk and the other functionality you get with a mature product like Tivoli Management Enterprise."

But Live Health's filtering capability may be the software's most useful feature, said Joe Banks, a senior networkengineer at Wang Government Services Inc. in McLean, Va.

It lets a user "see only the exceptions you want to see - a particular router or LAN link," he said.

For example, if a router slows, "every computer that touches it will send an alarm," said Elizabeth McPhillips, an analyst at Probe Research Inc. in Cedar Knolls, N.J.

Live Health presents the duration rather than the number of alarms, thus "eliminating the network traffic all those alarms would have generated," McPhillips said.

When Live Health polls devices, "it's not taking all Simple Network Management Protocol [SNMP] traps, just very particular [Management Information Base] variables," said Bugala. "Leaving some [extraneous data] out cuts down on traffic."

Live Health aggregates monitoring data from San Francisco-based Micromuse Inc.'s NetCool and OpenView Network Node Manager from Hewlett-Packard Co. and accepts SNMP data from sources other than its own polling agents, Conklin said.

"You'll still need something like NetCool or OpenView to get the operational view," Bugala said.

Both Wang and the Canadian foreign affairs department also use HP's OpenView Network Node Manager.

"There's no one universal productfor everyone," Drogseth said. An enterprise's size, complexity and goals affect its choices of tools, he said.

Other Options

A similar management package could combine tools such as NetScout from NetScout Systems Inc. in Westford, Mass.; Spectrum from Aprisma Management Technologies in Durham, N.H.; and VitalSuite from Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies Inc., Drogseth said.

"I would dare to say that [Nortel Networks Corp.'s] Optivity or Cisco Systems Inc.'s NetFlow or others can provide some orall of what Live Health does," Whipple said.

"It's the only one I've seen that's showing this view in this way," McPhillips said. "And Live Health is very intuitive. You can get the information in other products, but it's a bit of a trial."

Pricing for Live Health, an add-on to Concord's Network Health, starts at $35,000.

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