Management vendors look to open eyes at N+I

Network management vendors next week will be out in droves at NetWorld+Interop 2002 Las Vegas to show off wares designed to help companies ensure their networks, systems and applications meet expected service levels.

Micromuse Inc., BMC Software Inc. and Aprisma Management Technologies Inc. are among the companies that will try to make a splash at the show.

Micromuse will launch software modules, called Usage Service Monitors, that track and record network and application-resource usage by individual and time of day, among other measures. Along with the company’s NetCool/Omnibus fault management software, the offering could give customers a more comprehensive read on how their networks perform and why certain problems crop up.

The US$80,000 software package consists of Solaris or Linux server software and adapters that run on whatever network device or application server is being monitored. IT resources that can be monitored include routers, switches and firewalls and applications such as those from SAP. The adapters capture use and bandwidth-consumption data on network devices and applications and feed it to the server software, which serves as a repository accessible to net administrators via a Web interface.

“[Micromuse] is now watching how the network is being used, and that can help net managers prioritize which applications need more bandwidth and which devices run more smoothly,” says Paul Bugala, a senior analyst at IDC.

Micromuse also will announce Version 2.2 of its Internet Service Monitors. This software lets customers simulate Web site transactions and capture performance data, and the new version lets companies do this even as a Web site visitor switches from the unsecure part of a Web site to the secure part supported by HTTPS. The software can track every step a Web site visitor takes, letting the company see where performance might suffer.

Another fault-management vendor, Smarts, will use N+I to show off its performance-management software, a new offering called Application Services Manager. The software collects and aggregates performance data from other Smarts products or third-party agents. Smarts says it has written into its software the “symptoms” of problems that could occur with network devices, applications or systems.

Already strong in systems and application performance management, BMC plans to use Interop to show it can play in the network management market, too.

Take Aprisma, for example. This vendor is using N+I to show the latest extension to its Spectrum management system, a new offering dubbed the Web Operator Suite.

The US$10,000 software is installed on a Web server and lets users personalize the Web interface to deliver information and reports based on their needs. Spectrum comes with a standard Web interface, but the add-on offers more features for users to collect data based on their preferences, search by customized models, and generate event and alarm reports. For example, a network administrator can view data on switch availability, while an application developer could monitor response times on a server.

The new Web features let network administrators group network devices with applications, services and end users, so that if a problem occurs, the software will more quickly show administrators who’s affected, Aprisma says. With this real-time view of what’s affected, users can map out the mission-critical applications and prioritize tasks to ensure services get up and running more quickly.

“The most important issues with a failed router, for example, is the impact on IT service overall,” says Trent Waterhouse, director of product marketing for Aprisma.

The enterprise management software maker also will release two upgraded versions of Spectrum, one for large enterprise networks and one for carriers. Enhancements include support for voice over IP, wireless LAN technologies and storage-area networks.

Also at the show: