Cisco beefing up IP traffic management package

Cisco Systems is working to ease the management headaches of mainframe users supporting IP traffic.

To that end, the company plans a number of improvements to the CiscoWorks Blue mainframe-based Internetwork Status Monitor (ISM) application. These improvements include the ability to manage LAN traffic flowing through IBM's Open Systems Adapter (OSA), a card that directly links the mainframe with LANs.

In addition, Cisco will add a browser interface to ISM that will help users more easily navigate ISM data. The software also will be enhanced to monitor specific datastreams, such as tn3270 server traffic. ISM is a program that resides on a mainframe and lets users manage IP resources.

A number of these improvements are the result of the alliance of the two firms, announced last year, that lets them exchange technology more freely. Cisco and IBM discussed these changes this week at the SHARE technical user conference in Anaheim, California.

First, Cisco plans to tweak ISM code so it can start monitoring the OSA's activities. Specifically, ISM will be able to read the existing OSA Management Information Base (MIB), says Hal Liberty, a Cisco engineer. Users will now have the ability to measure the throughput of traffic running through the card. In the future, Liberty says, ISM will be able to monitor the OSA's CPU and memory usage. However, this ability depends on IBM expanding the OSA's MIB - which the company is expected to do this summer.

More flexibility

Additionally, users will have greater flexibility in setting thresholds they consider important to monitor, Liberty says.

For instance, users can monitor channel-attached routers running tn3270 server software and make sure they are not exceeding their session limits - a situation that can cause network performance problems.

Moreover, to make managing with ISM easier, Cisco will also add a browser-based graphical user interface, Liberty says. Users currently must rely on the ISM tn3270 command-line interface, a simple type-driven interface.

Furthermore, ISM will be able to share network traffic statistics with the mainframe-based System Management Facility (SMF) program. SMF lets users take performance data from legacy SNA communications software, such as Virtual Telecommunications Access Method, analyze it and produce performance trend reports.

This feature will probably appeal to SNA-IP users who want to get equal access to their various network performance trending tools, says Carl Brandt, a network administrator at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

ISM 2 will be available in July; pricing was unavailable.

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