Customers seek return on past promises at N+I

Whether in direct correlation to its sparse attendance or to simply cement the understanding that IT budget spending is still under lock and key, attendees at the Network + Interop/Comdex conference this week in Atlanta are expressing a desire to wrest greater value from their existing network products rather than invest in new management and application performance wares.

Zeroing in on that trend, vendors including Micromuse Inc., Resonate Inc., Alitris, and Coyote Point introduced upgraded products at N+I over the last few days that aim to incrementally improve software and appease customers hesitant to embrace unfamiliarity for escalating application and distributed infrastructure needs.

“The idea that someone is going to replace a framework or platform nowadays to do roughly the same tasks as the software that they were using before is not realistic,” said Paul Bugala, senior analyst for network and service management at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. “The key overall at N+I, and how vendors are positioning themselves, [is] going back into their customer base and delivering on past promises they made months ago…finding ways for customers to drive more value out of what they’ve already invested in.”

Micromuse this week announced the availability of its Netcool/Service Level Agreement Manager application. Dubbed “SLAM,” the product shies away from Micromuse’s heavy emphasis on fault management and gives customers a clearer picture of IT performance issues and how they stack up against SLAs.

Further, Micromuse announced at the show that it is shipping Riversoft’s NMOS solution fully integrated with Micromuse’s Netcool suite. The Riversoft technology – acquired along with the company in July for US$64 million – incorporates root-cause analysis mapping and advanced discovery for network functions.

Additionally, Chris Wareham, director of product management at San Francisco-based Micromuse, said the company will announce a higher performing upgrade to its flagship Omnibus product next month.

In other service-level oriented product news at N+I, Resonate announced Version 2.1 of its Resonate Commander solution has been beefed up to improve root-cause identification, corrective actions, and its ability to test application performance from an end-user’s perspective. Resonate Commander’s new testing muscle include new test types (FTP, SMTP, IMAP, DNS, POP3) and failure identification for multi-URL transactions, according to officials of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Resonate.

IDC’s Bugala said IDC does not foresee a jump or bounce in management software in the second half of 2002 that the IT research firm may have predicted in the past. Instead, IDC is seeing a rise in areas such as configuration management software to define capabilities in a network infrastructure related to assets and environment management roles.

“It’s going to be more and more important for enterprise management software to have a real strong grasp on investments already made, and how those investments can be accentuated with modules,” to bridge the management gap between fault, configuration, accounting, performance, and security, Bugala added.

Altriris at N+I announced a new version of its Asset Mgmt Suite, consisting of Application Metering Solution, Inventory Solution, Asset Control Solution, Contract Mgmt Solution, and TCO (total cost of ownership) Solution. The upgrade includes enhancements to Application Metering Solution to set denial and notification polices by collections such as groups or users, time of day, or type of application, said a spokesman from Lindon, Utah-based Altiris. In addition, Altiris introduced a management console to provide easier inventory of data, customization, improved reporting capabilities, and import inventory and asset collections from Microsoft SQL, SMS, Excel, and Access.

Even appliance vendors are not immune to the shifting demands of network management customers who must balance IT resource burdens with shrinking funds to resolve those problems.

“For the most part, our customers are looking to maximize existing infrastructure rather than invest in expensive new initiatives,” said Tom Wolf, director of sales and marketing at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Coyote Point Systems.

To meet that need, Coyote Point announced at N+I that it bolstered its flagship load balancing product, Equalizer v. 7.0, by adding Layer 7 capabilities to help customers maintain user session persistence.

Also at N+I, NetScout introduced its nGenius Eight Port Gigabit Ethernet Probe, a high-density probe for monitoring gigabit Ethernet switches and interswitch links to manage the performance of gigabit networks.