Visual Insights gives insight into network

Visual Insights Software for Application Performance makes it easier to get more valid and detailed information about how managed devices on a network are performing, according to one analyst.

“It’s the ease of trying to get additional information and correlation analysis and information about performance that really is interesting,” said Richard Ptak, vice-president, systems and application management at Hurwitz Group Inc. in Framingham, Mass.

Visual Insights is a wholly-owned business venture of Lucent Technologies, specializing in interactive data visualization products. Interactive data visualization, according to Ptak, is a dynamic graphical user interface with the ability to present data in forms other than just simple tables or graphs. It was developed by a Bell Labs research team looking to solve business problems based on large complex data sets.

“So the natural extension of that would be to commercialize that technology to solve problems that involve large data sets outside Bell Labs,” explained Michael Tatelman, vice-president of marketing and business development for Visual insights in Naperville, Ill.

“And this application (the Visual Insights Software for Application Performance) represents one of those opportunities.”

The Software for Application Performance includes the ability to: monitor application performance and availability continuously as end users experience it; to initiate corrective action plans based on the specific error conditions; to collect and visualize detailed usage and diagnostic data; and to isolate response-time problems to specific applications, networks or devices.

“If you’re an order-entry person and you’re supposed to be getting sub-one-second response time, on your screen 99 per cent of the time, this application would alert the network manager if you weren’t and enable him to find out why,” Tatelman said.

It can also establish accurate measurable service-level goals for enterprise applications, and track and report IT performance against established service-level objectives.

“Some of the benefits we see a lot now are with the notion of service level agreements,” Tatelman said. “This is a great tool to help monitor and enforce service level agreements against both up-time and response time.”

When describing the architecture of the product, Tatelman said there’s an agent technology that’s installed on the clients and on the servers which collects the data.

“Then there’s a visual console that is an alert mechanism for the systems and network manager to enable them to see visually if there is a problem,” he said.

“And the third module is the visual analyst – after data has been collected, you can do the diagnostic procedure on that to see — at a detailed level — what problems may have occurred in the environment.”

Tatelman said this translates into faster, better decisions, and more people being able to make those decisions because of the visual nature of the results.

“So it’s a very quick reaction time against a wide variety of problems by less-trained personnel.”

Hurwitz Group’s Ptak agreed.

“You don’t have to be a statistician or an expert in multi-variant analysis or even a sophisticated manipulator of numbers in order to see what’s happening in your network, and to judge and evaluate it,” he said.

Ptak thinks the product will be picked up and bundled by other vendors in the future.

“I expect it will become absorbed into a number of products as opposed to continuing for a long time as a standalone product,” he said.

Those who will get the most use out of the product will probably include enterprise operations managers for the most part, as well as people who are responsible for the delivery of services, according to Ptak. He said he imagines a CIO might find it useful.

“The specific customer is the CIO of an organization that’s looking to enforce the service level agreement, and the user is the systems and network manager or application manager who monitors performance,” Tatelman added.

Visual Insights Software for Application Performance supports applications based on Oracle 7 and 8, Sybase 4, 10 and 11, and Microsoft SQL Server 6.5, as well as applications built in PowerBuilder, Microsoft Visual Basic, Developer 2000, ODBC, JDBC and other popular development environments.

The controller and console components of the product operate as Microsoft Windows NT applications and the agents operate within Windows 95/98, Windows NT 4.x and Unix operating systems. The software can access data from any SQL-based relational database management system.

Basic configuration pricing starts at US$32,500 for a single application server supporting an unlimited number of users.

Visual Insights in Naperville, Ill., is at (630) 713-0800 or at