WAN vendors collaborate to guarantee service

Two major WAN equipment providers this week kicked off partnerships to help carriers guarantee service levels all the way to a customer's site.

Cisco Systems announced it will combine three network management tools with Concord Communications' Network Health software, and Ascend linked up with Paradyne to add a frame-relay customer-premise element to its NavisCore management platform.

One analyst said sophisticated service-level management systems will be key to making multiservice network offerings credible.

"Service providers can say what they want about service levels, but if they can't verify it, there's doubt in the user's mind," said Chris Nicoll, an analyst at Current Analysis, a consultancy in Ashburn, Virginia.

The first product of the Cisco-Concord alliance, Network Health-Cisco WAN Manager, will enable Network Health to collect data on WAN switches directly from Cisco WAN Manager, without constant queries.

Further innovations by the companies are designed to let service providers guarantee performance across IP, ATM, and frame-relay networks.

Cisco's Response Time Reporter also will be integrated with Network Health. In addition, Cisco's NetFlow technology will be combined with Concord's software to enable service providers to collect information on traffic flows at the service provider point of presence.

Ascend will integrate Paradyne's FrameSaver SLV system, which performs reporting and troubleshooting at end points, to its NavisCore software. The combination will let service providers manage WAN performance and enable Web views of performance data.

The Network Health-Cisco WAN Manager module will be available through Concord in February, priced at $US15,000. Response Time Reporter and NetFlow will be integrated into Network Health products by March.

Ascend and Paradyne will integrate FrameSaver with NavisCore in phases starting in early 1999.