Fluke performance manager now shows Cisco WAAS data

Performance management software has been gradually expanding its territory as IT and network managers demand more data to trouble-shoot problems.

In the lastest move, Fluke Networks has added support for Cisco WAAS (Wide Area Application Services) to the latest version of its Visual Performance Manager suite.

VPM is a sever-based system that displays network, application and server performance data collected from separate appliances. Fluke claims that by classifying the data it collects, managers can go from finding the root cause of a problem in three clicks.

Version 5.0 adds four capabilities:

-Support for Cisco WAAS, giving the ability to evaluate accelerated and non-accelerated application end user response times.

WPM 5.0 can also identify the WAAS policy used in each transaction for optimizing the mix of business application across the network; VPM’s existing capabilities include the display of application response times in non-accelerated environments. Fluke struck a partnership with Cisco to display WAAS data “so we can accurately represent end user response time metrics in a WAN accelerated environment, which is difficult to do accurately,” said Brendan Heffernan, Fluke’s VPM product manager.

The data is displayed numerically as well as graphically for easier viewing. Cisco WAAS is the only WAN acceleration service Fluke can show precise data for, although some information can be gleaned from other accelerators through flow data if the VPM system uses Fluke’s Network Flow Appliance. However, it won’t measure data on a transaction by transaction basis.

-A tweaked dashboard that will make it easier for C-level executives to get an idea of the performance of business applications they’re responsible for. This high level reporting can be customized;

-Integration with Fluke’s portable network trouble shooting tools. The data gathered in real time from its OptiView Intergrated Network Analyzer can be combined with other network, application and server data pulled in by VPM appliances;

-Usability and viewing enhancements. One is the creation of typical performance indicator charts, which are aimed at giving managers a graphic indication of existing performance of an application or device compared to its expected performance. These can be measured in a number of ways including application response time, data transfer time network round trip time or number of transactions over a given period of time.

Managers are now also able to select any application or device metric to graphically overlay on top of any trend to create a report of cause and effect to find the cause and effect of a problem.

VPM needs a server – either supplied by a customer or by purchasing a Fluke turnkey solution – plus at least one of three appliances that swallow up data. These are the Network Flow Appliance, for gathering flow information, the Application Performance Appliance, for gathering application data and the Analysis Service Element, a hardware probe.

VPM’s competitors include NetScout nGenius Performance Manager and NetQoS’ Performance Centre. Some performance monitoring software manufacturers have applications that manage networks and applications but aren’t integrated.

Industry analysts think managers will find the VPM 5.0 improvements useful. “What it marks is yet another step towards unifying [IT infrastructure] visibility across a number of capabilities,” said Glenn O’Donnell, senior infrastructure and operations analyst at Forrester Research.

While a number of vendors offer solutions that analyze flow data, many IT departments need more than that “so they can make sense of the chaos around them,” he said. All performance monitoring vendors realize this and are adding to their capabilities, he said.

That’s what Riverbed Technology, a maker of WAN optimization appliances, did when it acquired Mazu Networks this year, said Vanessa Alvarez, an enterprise and communications analyst at Frost and Sullivan. Mazu products, renamed Cascade, analyze network traffic.

Fluke’s alliance with Cisco for WAAS “was the right move . . . it was just a matter of time.” She also likes the so-called single pane of glass view for C-level executives. However, she’d like to see Fluke sign up other application acceleration manufacturers.

Network managers can no longer look at the network as “fast pipes that ship bits,” said O’Donnell. “Those bits repensent something meaningful at the other end of the wire to those using IT services. You can’t get that just by looking at the application, the network or the servers. You’ve got to pull it together in a meaningful way.”

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