Enterprise users of NetScout Systems Inc.’s nGenius Performance Manager suffer no shortage of data scooped up by the deep packet network inspection appliance.
However, the company says that it’s come up with a better way to display the data for those who want to relate it to what the business actually does.
The Westford, Mass., firm will bring out Service Delivery Manager at the end of the month, a separately–priced dashboard that lets managers see services holistically to understand when things go wrong.
“What we’ve done is enabled the IT organization to look at a service related to the business,” said Steven Shalita, NetScout’s vice-president of marketing.
Service Delivery Manager analyzes nGenius data to let network and IT analysts “manage service delivery in context with business consumption and provide early warning of performance issues.
“It’s a high-level dashboard that provides a starting-point to continuously manage and monitor the service delivery environment.” Performance Manager lets IT go deeper into the packets if necessary, he added.
Services are a collection of applications, network elements, middleware and enabling technologies that work together, he argued. However, he said, many organizations manage resources in a silo, with WAN groups, data centre groups, application groups. Often each uses separate diagnostic tools and don’t see the bigger picture of application delivery, he argued.
“So they end up with a tremendous amount of data and very little actionable information that allows them to manage a service delivery environment,” he said.
The Service Delivery Manager is a three-pane dashboard that shows the hierarchy of an organization on the left pane in a tree format that can be broken down into regional or branch offices or workgroups, with each showing the services it uses (email, VoIP, employee portal etc.) and its status. Each service groups logical components together (SMTP, MAPI, LDAP etc. for email, for example) that can be drilled down into.
Almost all components are automatically discovered, Shalita said, but manual linking is available.
The organization can also decide which applications vital to the business will be monitored, he added. An analytics engine learns how the network operates to validate business rules set by the organization to ensure consistent service levels. Unusual behaviour changes in latency, response times, packet loss and other issues the color of the status icon for each service and triggers an alert.
In many cases first -level staff armed with the information can solve problems without going into packet analysis, Shalita said.
It also sends alerts on potential security problems such as application servers or hosts that are behaving unusually that signature-based malware don’t see.
Jim Frey, research director at Enterprise Management Associates, a Boulder, Col., IT consulting firm, said this is an important addition. Network performance applications have always had the possibility of recognizing security threats, he said in an interview, but few vendors successfully do it.
As for Service Delivery Manager’s dashboard, Frey said this is an improvement of an earlier application awareness dubbed K2. However, now “they’re really got it right.”
“This is a more mature version,” he said “It’s got more of the rough edges rounded, and a lot more power … a lot of the challenges that were had in the first generation product with making it easy to set up and view have been much improved.”
Service Delivery Manager can send information to many network management consoles including Hewlett-Packard’s Network Node Manager i-series and Business Availability Centre, IBM’s Tivoli Enterprise Console and Tivoli Netcool/Omnibus and EMC’s Ionix Service Assurance Manager, IP Availability Manager and Discovery Manager.
Service Delivery Manager will be released at the end of the month and comes with Performance Manager, but needs a separate US$80,000 licence for up to 50 nGenius data source points. A workgroup version for 20 data source points hasn’t been priced yet.