Extreme launches management software

Extreme Networks last month unveiled software that will enable network administrators to manage application performance across their networks, according to the company.

ServiceWatch allows ISPs and ASPs to detect problems before they happen and automatically correct them, ultimately enabling application dial tone for continuous service, said Tony Lee, the director of project marketing at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Extreme.

Part of the company’s ExtremeWare software family, ServiceWatch uses a Web-based interface to monitor up to 1,000 services.

“ServiceWatch is really an independent, stand-alone software that today runs on Solaris Sun Microsystems and will be supported on Linux, Windows 2000 and Windows NT before the end of the year,” Lee explained.

The purpose of ServiceWatch is to achieve non-stop services, Lee said. It offers 24×7 monitoring for different types of applications, including FTP, file transfer servers; Web servers; name servers, such as DHCP; and mail servers or directory servers.

As ServiceWatch is dealing with the applications level, it doesn’t matter whose switches it’s running in the infrastructure-it will still function properly, according to Lee. But if it works with the Extreme Networks infrastructure below, it can tie more closely to the full range of quality of service (QoS) capabilities, he said.

As an example, Lee said that if in the middle of the night ServiceWatch finds consistently high utilization that can trigger a script, it can change the policy setting on QoS to give it more bandwidth or more priority for that particular application as a temporary fix. At the same time, it would page the administrator, who could then implement a more permanent fix.

The fashion in which the administrator is contacted can also be predefined, either by pager, e-mail or an SNMP notification to the network management app, depending on the severity of the problem.

Eric Thompson, a Raleigh, N.C.-based senior analyst with Gartner Group/Dataquest, said that most switch vendors are really into load-balancing right now, especially as it is a very hot topic with ASPs and ISPs.

“The problem is that a lot of the vendors only look at the type of traffic and load-balance based on the type of traffic,” Thompson explained. “What this product does is it actually looks at the application and determines how healthy that application is. That is a very good addition to what Extreme does in the load-balancing arena.”

ServiceWatch adds Layer 7 application dial tone, Thompson said. “It actually checks the performance of the applications themselves. And the reason that’s important is that the network may be running fine, but if you shut down a couple of servers, and the applications are not accessible because of the server, the end result is customers don’t use your Web site.”

Gershon Rothstein, a senior project manager with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Inc. in New York, N.Y., has been using ServiceWatch for a number of years. The product was originally developed and distributed by another company about three years ago, according to Rothstein, and was recently bought by Extreme. “So it’s new to them, but it’s not a new product,” he noted.

Pfizer is using the product to monitor all of its Unix Internet servers to “let us know instantly when one of the services is down so that we can take immediate action,” according to Rothstein.

The company is currently using the beta version of the product, and Rothstein said there have been improvements made.

“The GUI is nicer, the way of setting things up is nicer,” he said, adding that, so far, he has not had any problems with it. “It’s actually one of those products that actually does what it says it is going to do…it wakes me up at night…that’s the only thing I don’t like about it. But when it does it, it does it because there is something wrong.”

There will be more integration of the product with Extreme’s network management application down the road, according to Lee. The company will also add additional service-type support, such as SSL, SSH2 and additional database support.

ServiceWatch for the Solaris operating system is available now. Pricing is based on the number of services: five for approximately US$2995; 10 for US$3995; 50 for US$13,995 and 100 for US$19,995. For more information, or for a free 30-day downloadable copy of ServiceWatch, see the company Web site at www.extremenetworks.com.