NI develops a new link

Minneapolis-based Network Instruments LLC has released its Link Analyst 3.0 in an effort to technologically leapfrog its closest competitor’s product.

According to Network Instruments’ president, Douglas Smith, his company and Lexington, Mass.-based Ipswitch Inc. play leapfrog with each other with every new release of their products. With each new release, he said, both companies add features not available in the competing product.

“Another product called WhatsUp Gold by Ipswitch is in essence the same thing [as Link Analyst],” Smith said. “We claim we do certain things better. They claim they do certain things better. But we’re fighting for the same dollar.” The two products also fall into similar price ranges, he added.

The newest version of Link Analyst, a network mapping and uptime monitoring application, has three new features and enhancements customers have been asking for, Smith said. The biggest addition in Link Analyst 3.0 is Web accessibility from any browser. With this release, network managers can bookmark a Web page that carries current data on the network (what devices are up and down, WAN routes, response time, device addresses and names, etc.) and view it from their desks or remotely.

“Both our product and the WhatsUp Gold product give you a map of your LAN with little icons for stations -red if they’re down, green if they’re up, and so on. We provide that [data] to anyone who has a password and a browser,” Smith said. “So if you’re running this product in your server room, which is where most people run this kind of product, you don’t have to walk to the server room to see what’s going on. You just double-click on an icon in your browser…and get your map inside your browser.”

As an enhancement of the simple pager system launched in Link Analyst 2.0, Network Instruments has created a more advanced pager system for the 3.0 version. In Link Analyst 2.0, the system could send an alert to a pager’s number when certain conditions arose on the network.

“But…we had companies saying, ‘Well, gee, I’ve got 16 system administrators and Monday through Friday eight to five, it’s John, but we trade off weekends and so on.’ So we have this whole calendaring system that you can put in the schedule of your administrators and it will page the right pager if the event happens within the timeframe when that person is on call,” Smith said. The advanced pager is being integrated into all of Network Instruments’ network monitoring products.

Link Analyst 3.0 has also adopted the XML standard for database exporting, he said.

According to Glenn O’Donnell, a program director at Stamford, Conn.-based META Group Inc., the main market for tools like Link Analyst is the small- and medium-sized enterprise, but there is a lot of interest forming in the large enterprise space, as well.

“I think they’re doing well with small- and medium-sized enterprises,” O’Donnell said. “They do need to get out a stronger message to large enterprises that they do indeed have some capabilities that can be used in large enterprises.”

Network Instruments’ Link Analyst 3.0 is available now and is priced at US$495. For more information, see the company on the Web at