Lucent provides Vital network monitoring

With more businesses forming plans to develop e-commerce initiatives, the need for IT managers to demonstrate the reliability of their networks is becoming critical.

To meet this requirement, the industry has seen a growth of network performance management tools. The latest from Lucent Technologies, VitalSuite 7.0, comes with excellent support service, said one industry analyst.

The strength of Lucent’s VitalSuite lies in the support Lucent can provide to users, said Bill Gassman, an analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group Inc. He explained that Lucent’s acquisition of International Network Services (INS) earlier this year gave the company an excellent service organization.

“INS has had the reputation, over time, of having an extremely good nation-wide support staff. I’ve had clients tell me that they feel their INS representative is like a member of their own staff. I’m amazed, I haven’t heard a bad thing about them,” Gassman said.

He noted performance management tools like VitalSuite are becoming more important as firms move to implement e-business applications.

“What’s going on right now is these business managers are just going nuts with these e-business things. You can buy a business plan in a box or business process in a box, such as customer relationship management, and managers are saying, ‘Let’s do supply chain management, let’s do this let’s do that,'” Gassman said.

VitalSuite 7.0 provides a comprehensive view into how the overall enterprise is performing, said Marc Cohn, Lucent Technologies’ product line manager for network performance products. VitalSuite and its newest component, VitalNet, integrate network, application and business performance views into a single, personalized portal that displays how all three components are collaborating to support business operations, Cohn added.

Lucent offers customers the choice of ordering hardware with all the software they need installed, or ordering just the software components they require.

The package is then shipped to one of Lucent’s field offices. The field engineer goes on site and helps the customer get set up, installs the server on the network, checks it out and comes back in a couple of weeks to make sure everything’s working.

“What we’ve done, being a services organization, is actually simplified [the installation] beyond what traditional software package and software manufacturers have done by offering a ‘premiere service’ that essentially takes away all the initial start-up and checkout and support headaches by replacing internal company administrators with our people,” Cohn said.

“It’s a completely different model. It’s more along the lines of an ASP model than conventional software – and our customers really love that because IT departments are just overburdened with the details of running their operation.”

While corporate enterprises are the core customer base for VitalSuite, service providers can also use the software to monitor and measure the quality of services they deliver to their users, Cohn said. VitalSuite 7.0 also allows customers to determine whether service level agreements are being met, he added.

The software is able to integrate network, application and business performance data into a single view. The product family is composed of three distinct components – VitalNet, VitalAnalysis and VitalHelp – that individually offer both historical and real-time analysis of enterprise performance.

The VitalNet component allows users to monitor, analyse and predict the behaviour of their enterprise LAN/WAN infrastructure to predict the behaviour of their performance problems, plan future growth, and allocate and optimize network resources.

The VitalAnalysis component provides a historical overview of application performance as experienced by end users, enabling IT to monitor and verify service levels as well as identify trends that may lead to future problems.

By aggregating performance data collected by VitalAgent software on user desktops, VitalAnalysis provides insight into critical business processes.

The VitalHelp component provides the help desk with troubleshooting capabilities and immediately reports events and other failures detected by VitalAgent software on the desktop. Details such as the location of the problem, as well as probable causes and recommended solutions, enable the help desk to detect, isolate and resolve problems before users are aware they exist.

Another component, My Vital, is a customizable, personalized enterprise information portal that displays any combination of network, application and business performance data selected by the user. Similar to common portals that provide personalized stock, business and other types of information, VitalSuite 7.0 users can select specific performance data from the three primary VitalSuite components and merge it all into a single, display that provides a detailed window into enterprise performance.

The My Vital feature allows users to create displays that address their specific concerns and track what’s most important to them.

VitalSuite 7.0 supports a wide-range of multi-vendor SNMP devices and off-the-shelf enterprise business applications. An MBIWorks framework extends VitalSuite capabilities to standard SNMP devices through the use of common MIBs, while an APPWorks feature provides support for custom TCP/IP-based applications.

VitalSuite 7.0, including VitalNet 7.0, VitalAnalysis and VitalHelp 7.0, is available and shipping now. Pricing for the full product family begins at US$44,000.

Lucent in Willowdale, Ont., is at (416)499-9400.