Performance Tools to Take Center Stage

LAS VEGAS (05/08/2000) - Network managers next week will get some help ensuring their networks run smoothly, as several vendors tweak their management software to monitor performance and diagnose problems.

At NetWorld+Interop 2000, Tivoli Systems Inc., BMC Software Inc. and Aprisma Management Technologies will detail major overhauls to their software, adding capabilities for resolving e-business performance problems more quickly.

Smaller vendors such as NetScout Systems and Entuity are also planning to announce new products this week.

Tivoli is slated to announce Version 6.0 of NetView, its flagship network management software. In this version, network managers can define a variety of network object classes called SmartSets. IS staff can then take these classes - for instance, a set of routers in a WAN - and write specific rules that apply to them alone, Tivoli says. One rule might be to ping a set of key e-business routers every minute, and ping another set of less-crucial routers every hour.

As more routers are added, they are automatically covered by the preset rules.

A SmartSet can include all the devices or servers in a department, or it can include all devices handling a specific application. IS staff can use agents or SNMP and other protocols to feed data to the NetView console.

Also coming to NetView will be a Web-based management client completely written in Java. The Web console was formerly a browser written in Java and other languages, and could be accessed simultaneously by only dozens of users; the new Java client lets hundreds of users access the management server.

In addition, NetView can now indicate that a specific device has failed without also indicating that other devices downstream have crashed. Previously, an entire network topology map would register a crash without indicating what specific parts were congested, says Jim Carey, network management development director for Tivoli. NetView 6.0 is available now, starts at $6,200 and runs on Unix, and Windows NT and 2000.

Patrol on the march

BMC in Houston this week is expected to announce Patrol 2000, which will help IS staff diagnose problems and uphold service-level agreements (SLA) for individual departments in a company, says Dave Wagner, a director of product marketing for BMC. IS staff can define the acceptable levels of service for a given department or application in a network. If the SLA is breached, or in danger of being breached, Patrol 2000 can respond automatically in a variety of ways, such as launching a script to fix a problem.

Patrol 2000 has a new modeling engine that can automatically measure the performance of thousands of individual metrics. For instance, Patrol can view the performance of an application such as Microsoft Exchange and benchmark its optimal performance; if there is a crash, the modeling engine can take into account the network topology and provide root cause analysis.

This analysis capability is similar to a feature coming to Aprisma's Spectrum 6.0 software.

Patrol 2000 will be available this quarter. It runs on major Unix flavors, NT and Win 2000. Pricing starts at $820.

Also this week:

London's Entuity will announce its move into the U.S. market with Eye of the Storm 2.0, software that can anticipate performance degradation in switched LANs and WANs by looking at real-time switch port performance and other indicators and comparing them to historical data. It is available now, runs on Solaris and NT, and starts at $20,000.

NetScout Systems in Westford, Massachusetts, will demo its nGenius software, which includes a server, a network probe and a monitor. It lets IS staff view the Web front end in the same console as the rest of the network and provides information on URL traffic, response times and error rates. The nGenius package runs on Unix and Windows NT, and starts at $24,995 and will be available by summer's end.

Andover, Massachusetts, management software maker Opticom will roll out Version Control iView, which monitors networks and ensures that all devices and software on a network are compatible. It will ship in June, starting at $10,000.

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