Alcatel looks to ease QoS deployment

Alcatel SA this week will release an updated version of its management software that could help businesses manage a large-scale Alcatel network, while simplifying quality-of-service deployment for applications such as voice over IP.

For Alcatel-based shops, the updated OmniVista 2000 Version 2.0 network management software will aid in QoS deployment by supporting preconfigured templates that automate the process of configuring Layer 2 and Layer 3 switches for voice or data prioritization.

Version 2.0 adds support for Alcatel’s OmniSwitch 7000 and 8000 line of enterprise core devices, along with OmniStack stackable switches and some OmniAccess routers. The software can be used to map out topology views in networks based on Alcatel products. Users also can collect statistics on network performance across multiple devices to look at trends. The software can set up alerts for switches or switch ports, where administrators can be notified of problems such as excessive traffic.

OmniVista 2000 can integrate with enterprise network management software such as Hewlett-Packard’s OpenView and Computer Associates’ Unicenter.

“Were looking for something that’s more than just a box manager,” says Willis Marti, associate director of computer and information services networking at Texas A&M University in College Station. The university has more than 500 Alcatel switches and routers in its network, including the OmniSwitch 7000 and 8000 products. “The [OmniVista 2000] hasn’t completed the journey, but it’s taken a giant step toward being a true system manager,” Marti says, adding that he would like to see more support for older Alcatel products in the platform.

Technology challenge

Observers say Alcatel has struggled to integrate technology from its purchases of switch makers Xylan and Packet Engines. This is evident in that while OmniVista integrates newer Alcatel gear, such as the OmniSwitch 7000 and 8000, the software is weak on supporting older products, such as integrating QoS management with older switches such as Alcatel’s Packet Engines-based OmniCore products. Also, if a business wants to roll VoIP management into OmniVista, a separate OmniVista 4760 management product is needed to manage Alcatel’s OmniPCX 4400 IP PBX device.

Alcatel says it will integrate voice, VPNs and more of its acquired/legacy products into new OmniVista releases next year. A downturn in overall enterprise revenue has slowed this kind of network management integration, according to the vendor.

The OneTouch QoS feature of the software’s PolicyView module gives users a graphical user interface where they can choose preconfigured One Touch Voice or One Touch Data QoS templates, and apply the settings to subnets across the network. Settings can be configured once and distributed across multiple switches, which eliminates the time-consuming work of configuring individual switches through each device’s command line interface. Proper Layer 2 802.1p and Layer 3 Differentiated-Services- and type of service (TOS)-based QoS settings are adjusted without the user having to configure Layer 2 and Layer 3 QoS mappings.

An Expert Mode lets users configure QoS policies based on IP addresses, individual machines on the network or individual protocols. Diff-Serv, TOS and 802.1p settings also can be defined on a more detailed level.

The OmniVista 2000 software starts at US$4,500, and the PolicyView with OneTouch QoS starts at $12,500. The products are available now.