SevOne updates network performance management appliance

There’s no shortage of network performance management tools on the market to choose from, but a young American firm believes its appliance-based solution is the dream tool administrators need.

That’s because SevOne’s line of Linux-powered PAS devices are the “dream tools” of the two founders, network architects who worked for Delaware financial institutions, according to company CEO Michael Phelan.

He said the pair – one of whom is CTO Vess Bakalov – were frustrated at the tools they had to use and decided to create one of their own that could flexibly group network elements for easy management as well as give almost real-time polling of major applications and devices.

The result is a line of five 1U-sized units (actually, they are specially-configured Dell servers), first released in June. Ranging from the PAS 5K to the PAS 60K, they are differentiated by the number of network elements they can manage.

The line’s software was upgraded this week to include:

-deferred data, which enables business metrics or any third-party data to be imported and correlated to metrics gathered by the appliance;

-baseline graphing and processing, which looks and scores at all data points within 60 minutes;

-the ability to set thresholds on more than one condition;

-enhancements to the Netflow data analysis capabilities, including the ability create categories of sortable groups; -the ability to create groups of objects ranging from CPUs to Gigabit links;

-polling of Windows Management Instrumentation data;

-and the ability for users to get a high-level overview of the entire network.

Phelan also said SevOne is only just beginning to push itself in Canada. A business development staffer tasked to find “the best and brightest” Canadian integrators to sell the products was to join the company this quarter, with another employee to be added to help him early next year.

All models of the PAS (which stands for Performance Appliance Solution) have the same software, which includes the MySQL database. There are no extra features to buy.

Among the more important goals of the appliances is to be able to match the performance metrics it gathers to business metrics, Phelan said – for example, when do people online abandon filing out forms, activity that might signal an IT problem. Prices range from under US$25,000 for the PAS 5K, which monitors up to 5,000 elements, to US$166,000 for the PAS 60K.

Richard Ptak, an industry analyst with Ptak, Noel and Associates of Amherst, N.H., said that with the pricing and features the PAS line “should be able to compete effectively as the IT operating infrastructure becomes more complex.” However, he said that IT managers have mixed feelings about appliance-based network performance tools.

Phelan said that the appliances have been picked up by a number of U.S. communications, finance and health care companies. In October, cableco Comcast Corp. of Philadelphia announced it is using the appliances to monitor its networks. Phelan said other targeted buyers will be managed service providers whose customers could use PAS’s data gathering capabilities to keep track of service level agreements.

He said the appliances use peer-to-peer architecture that can sense if more than one PAS server is on a network. As a result, he said, as more appliances are added performance speed improves. PAS appliances can link to EMC Smarts, HP OpenView and IBM Netcool tools. Competitors include those products as well as CA’s eHealth and InfoVista’s VistaInsight.

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