Brix device monitors network quality at core

Brix Networks Inc. on Monday stepped up its QoS (quality of service) monitoring capabilities to serve core data centres and Internet service provider (ISP) peering points, unveiling a larger version of its hardware platform and a new release of its management software.

Brix makes systems that ISPs and their customers can use to verify continually that the promised performance of a VOIP (voice over Internet protocol), VPN (virtual private network) or traditional ISP service is being delivered. They include devices that both monitor real traffic and send simulated traffic types over the network, as well as BrixWorks software that let network administrators view the gathered statistics and act on them.

The Brix 2500 Verifier, announced Monday, is Brix’s most powerful device to date, according to Jamie Warter, vice-president of marketing and business development at the Chelmsford, Mass.-based company. The 2500 available with 10/100/1000M bps (bits per second) Ethernet copper or fibre interfaces that can be attached to ports in a switch or router to monitor high-speed traffic. It is designed to monitor traffic in and out of a major data center, Web hosting facility or ISP peering point. Brix last year unveiled the 1000 Verifier for smaller ISP points of presence and in 2000 introduced the 100 Verifier for customer premises.

The 2500 Verifier can create streams of traffic that simulate voice calls, videoconferences, Web transactions and other kinds of activities on an IP network.

By sending those streams at all hours of the day, it can keep administrators aware of how well the network is functioning and whether it will be able to provide the desired service when requested. The system can be set to resend the simulated traffic every few seconds or at another interval, Warter said. The device can also monitor actual traffic running over the network.

Also Monday, Brix rolled out BrixWorks 2.0, a new version of its management software. Although certain statistics that the Verifier products collect can be integrated into third-party management applications such as Hewlett-Packard Co.’s OpenView, BrixWorks can also be used alongside the third-party products to provide additional information.

The latest version of Brix’s software adds several new capabilities, including new troubleshooting tools and high-level report types. One added feature is a view that displays information on a variety of functions in a single graph, Warter said.

The Brix 2500 Verifier is available immediately in North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe with a base price of US$16,500. BrixWorks 2.0 Central Site Software is available for $60,000, and a pack of 25 licenses for Verifier devices costs $10,000.