Bear Stearns to monitor all-IP network

Financial services firm Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. is making its long-planned move into a new 43-floor Manhattan headquarters, which will be equipped with what still has to be considered one of the most cutting-edge network technologies: IP-based voice, data and video over Gigabit Ethernet.

To monitor what will be a massive amount of IP traffic on the LAN used by 4,300 employees, Bear Stearns will install more than 150 Sniffer Distributed network appliances from Network Associates to analyze the applications, according to Don Henderson, the firm’s managing director of IT. Managing this network, built with equipment from IPC and Cisco Systems Inc., is expected to be simpler than managing the one Bear Stearns is leaving behind, which included circuit-switched communications such as ISDN. Bear Stearns says it will require far fewer network management tools and specialists.

Voice over IP is still a new approach for most firms, according to Sniffer Technologies Inc. president Bakul Mehta. He says that the latest version of Sniffer Distributed can troubleshoot voice-over-IP traffic to determine the cause of voice degradation, be it packet delay or sequencing problems, and report to the Sniffer management console.

Steps will be taken to optimize real-time reporting by running a second “overlay” network at Bear Stearns so that the Sniffer Distributed monitoring agents positioned across the intranet can quickly report to the company’s remote data operations centre in New Jersey.

“It’s an out-of-band network we built, an overlay network, to make access to the management tools very quick and effective,” says Henderson, who adds that his firm worked with Network Associates Inc. on the design.

Bear Stearns has long operated its New York office with plenty of specialized trading terminals and phones, but no servers. Instead, the servers, which thousands of employees use, are stored in a New Jersey data operations facility and accessed remotely at high speed via dark-fibre links that the firm leases.