Agilent shoots down trouble with new offering

The ability to test and troubleshoot voice, data and wireless networks from a single, centralized site is the promise of a new offering from Agilent Technologies Canada Inc.

Aimed at both the enterprise and service provider markets, Agilent’s Network Troubleshooting Center (NTC) seeks to alleviate the problems surrounding the fault isolation and resolution process, as well as speeding up the deployment of new services across the network.

One of the NTC’s most attractive features, according to Daryle DeBalski, research and development manager, Network Systems Test Division for Agilent in Colorado Springs, Colo., is its simplicity.

“At every step along the way it’s really about helping the user get to that single grain of sand, that single thing that’s causing a problem, and to provide assistance along the way,” he said. “They don’t have to be an expert, or sift through all this data or know one particular technology over another.”

Agilent also claims that by allowing IT departments to remotely troubleshoot networks form a single location, the NTC alleviates the need to have a physical presence at numerous sites to fix problems. This allows IT shops to carry out their tasks with fewer people.

Other benefits of the NTC cited by Agilent include clear, network-wide views of performance and fault analysis data across heterogeneous networks and apps, and the ability to troubleshoot from the app level to the protocol level over any LAN/WAN interface.

While the NTC can be purchased as a standalone product, Agilent is shilling the ware with the accompanying message that it works best with its Network Analyzer suite of tools, which comprises a number of products. Introduced in January, 2002, they aim to carry out the dirty work of actually fixing network glitches.

The J6800A Network Analyzer, for instance, is billed as a portable, “all-in-one” tool that allows for dual-port measurements across any combination of LAN and WAN interfaces. It has a built-in PC with keyboard, CD RW drive and a removable hard disk drive for the security conscious.

“It’s the marriage of these two tools where the power comes through,” said DeBalski. “The Network Troubleshooting Center gets you to the right part quickly and then the Network Analyzer allows you to solve that problem more quickly. One without the other, while a valuable solution, doesn’t have the magnified power of the two together.”

Deutsche Telekom in Germany has adopted the NTC in order to better deal with trouble on its network, an infrastructure which spans the entire country.

“Managing a network with some thousand switches and routers makes is mandatory to have a centralized tool for troubleshooting,” Jeurgen Hansen, senior engineer at Deutsche Telekom’s IP Network Customer Care Center, told Network World Canada. “The Agilent NTC was selected because it had the ability to consolidate switch and router statistics together with high-level Network Analyzer information in one interface.”

Hansen added that the product was impressive in the ease-of-use category.

“Coming from a high-level view, it is easy to drill down to get detailed information for troubleshooting.”

The engineer did say, however, that he would like to see further robustness added in future releases.

“With the large network we have, it would be good to have a hierarchical view of the different agents.”

Agilent’s Network Troubleshooting Center is available now at a starting price of $19,500. For more information, see