3Com Upgrades Management Software

3Com unveiled a significant upgrade to its traffic-management software last month that enables users to proactively avoid network problems.

3Com’s Transcend Traffix Manager 3.0 alerts network managers to potential problems by logging events based on predefined rules or thresholds. Previous versions of Traffix Manager merely kept track of traffic patterns and required network managers to spot anomalies in network behaviour before they could take action.

Oklahoma State University, for example, used the Version 3.0 beta to define a rule whereby any traffic destined for the Internet that consumes 10 per cent of the network bandwidth triggers an event.

“We’ve actually managed to catch some students doing things that they shouldn’t be doing or setting up servers in the dorms,” said Michael White, network analyst at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. “I’ve actually caught two that I wouldn’t have caught” if not for the new features in the Version 3.0 beta.

Traffix Manager 3.0 is also the first version of the software to be based on a client/server architecture. Other important new features include: enhanced ease of use; support for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)-assigned IP addresses; and Domain Name System (DNS) aggregation for increased scalability.

Traffix Manager 3.0 runs on Windows NT servers, and NT and Unix clients. It gathers traffic statistics and diagnostic data from Remote Monitoring and RMON2 agents and probes, and compiles the data into textual and graphical information on network traffic patterns and behaviour.

Network managers can use this information to establish the baseline performance of their network, design or configure the network, and plan for expansion or contraction.

The software includes an event manager that gathers cryptic data from the agents and probes and presents the data as legible information. The event manager also pinpoints potential problems using colour-coded messages that indicate event severity. The event manager is tipped off to the severity of an event by predefined rules, thresholds or policies established by the network manager.

Users can group or filter events based on severity, time of day, date, source and description.

Traffix Manager 3.0 is also based on a client/server architecture that lets multiple users simultaneously access the system. Previously, only one Traffix Manager user could use the software at a time. Traffix Manager 3.0 client packages are written in the Java Runtime Environment 1.2 language, which is intended to foster a more dynamic, real-time graphical depiction of the status of the network.

These Java clients also contribute to the software’s ease-of-use enhancements. The Traffix Manager 3.0 user interface makes it easier for users to spot the most conversant clients and servers on the network and to get a quick look at traffic volume and other network activity.

The software also features start-up and discovery wizards that help ease installation and data collection, 3Com said.

To help track mobile users, Traffix Manager 3.0 supports DHCP servers. DHCP servers dole out IP addresses from a pool of available addresses for users who are on the go but need access to the corporate network. Traffix Manager 3.0 tracks the network activity of these users by identifying them via their media access control address, not the IP address.

For increased scalability, Traffix Manager 3.0 features DNS aggregation, which groups servers with the same name together as if they were one network device. This increases scalability by freeing more space in the Traffix Manager database because information on multiple devices is stored as if it were from one device with a common name.

One drawback of Traffix Manager 3.0 is the CPU power, memory and disk space it requires.

“Don’t go cheap on horsepower; you’re going to need it,” cautioned Oklahoma State’s White.

Traffix Manager 3.0 costs US$9,995 and will ship this month.

3Com is at www.3com.com.