Network Instruments optmizes Link Analyst

Although traditionally designed to manage and monitor, some new net management offerings are delving deeper into bringing optimization to enterprise networks. Following this trend, Network Instruments LLC has released the latest version of its Link Analyst product that is now able to integrate with its flagship protocol analyzer suite.

According to the Minneapolis-based company, Link Analyst offers graphical network and route mapping and device status monitoring for both local and remote networks. The software reduces troubleshooting time, detects network abnormalities and device and route failures, configures alarms for instant alerts via pager or e-mail and can map network status from any Web browser, the company said.

New in version 4.1, Link Analyst offers a “right-click” to launch Observer monitoring and analysis capability for any map item. The Observer product line, which includes Observer, Expert Observer and Observer Suite, is a family of protocol analysis and network monitoring products that the company said enables organizations to manage and troubleshoot their networks.

Link Analyst 4.1 now enables network administrators to start a packet capture on highlighted map items; automatically create filters on highlighted map items; start Observer with focus set on current maps, devices or probes; export a Link Analyst map into an Observer alias table; and import an Observer alias table into a Link Analyst map.

“Link Analyst is designed for anybody with a large network that wants to know what is going on with their servers, their routers and it will notify anybody who is supposed to be notified if there is a problem,” said Hugh Waller, a Network Instruments user and president of 3WAN Inc., a reseller in Calgary. “Link Analyst is built to tie into Observer to make administration of the network much more seamless. If someone has a network (with Link Analyst) and any part of that network starts to slow down, it will let them know. It will even let them know before the problem occurs.”

Although Link Analyst appears to be ideally suited for the service provider market, Dan McLean of IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto said the enterprise market in Canada is not ready for this kind of functionality.

“Carriers are typically the people that impose a lot of performance management on their networks because they are trying to monitor usage and want to maximize the resources that they have,” said McLean, director of outsourcing and IT utility research for IDC Canada in Toronto. “I think a lot of people would like to be in a position to maximize what they have. But I think the big inhibitor in terms of these tools is there is a lot of complexity in terms of deploying them.”

McLean added that the companies who have a strong handle on management and monitoring are presently in the minority. However, he noted that network optimization is a trend that is growing in importance, and down the road, more businesses will be looking toward these types of tools to assist them in doing so.

“I think [Network Instruments’] opportunity is for service providers who are marketing managed services for customers,” he said. “What they are doing is they are servicing a lot of customers through their own network and clearly what they want to be able to do is to maximize the performance of their own network because it all means dollars to them.”

At press time, Network Instruments was unavailable for comment.

Link Analyst 4.1 is available now and is priced at US$795. Observer integration is offered as a free upgrade to existing Link Analyst 4.x users. For more information, visit the company at