NextPoint synthesizes network performance

Version 2.0 of NextPoint Networks’s NextPoint S3 application and network management platform extends S3’s capabilities to include predictive analysis, custom application monitoring and e-commerce management.

NextPoint S3 monitors the performance of applications on an enterprise network by creating imitations of actual application sessions and running these “synthetic” transactions at various times throughout the day, said NextPoint spokesperson Rajesh Puranik. The product also tracks network performance by collecting information from SNMP and RMON agents.

Once the information is collected, it is compiled and presented in graphical form. Network managers can then look at 30-day measurements which reveal such performance-related information as peak and average response times and utilization levels.

Puranik said this tracking capability makes NextPoint S3 an ideal tool for providing service levels to end users.

“To do that, you need to manage network-level performance, application-level performance and make some decisions about how they’re impacting service levels and how to optimize service levels based on your analysis.”

As application service provider and Web hosting services continue to grow, Puranik believes NextPoint S3 will see wider adoption.

“Enterprise customers can use NextPoint to monitor these outsourced services,” he said.

The additions made to NextPoint S3 2.0 not only increase its capabilities, but tie it more closely to other applications and platforms.

“We recognize we’re part of a larger suite of network applications a manager will typically employ,” Puranik said, “and we’ve taken steps to further integrate with other management applications.”

The predictive analysis module available with S3 2.0 allows network managers to be more proactive, Puranik said. The module compiles historical data and uses it to forecast response times, availability, utilization, errors, collisions, broadcasts and other information.

“It’s nice to see the baseline of the last 30 days to understand where normal performance is,” Puranik explained, “but it’s even better to be able to forecast the service levels into the future. You can anticipate slowdowns better and take action.”

Meanwhile, the e-commerce enhancements allow enterprises to better monitor e-commerce transactions.

To set up e-commerce monitoring, Puranik explained, network managers would go through an e-commerce transaction on their companies’ Web sites.

“The NextPoint software records that whole transaction and then is able to play it back through the NextPoint agent,” he said. “The idea is you’re capturing an actual transaction and then playing it back from different agents throughout the day on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis.”

Bill Gassman, an analyst with consultancy Gartner Group Inc., said S3 provides functionality that isn’t available in enterprise management platforms from vendors such as CA and Tivoli.

“It’s a more network-oriented product than CA or Tivoli is,” he said.

For instance, Gassman noted, S3 provides better auto-discovery of network components. “Tivoli uses NetView, which is not known for its excellent auto-topology and CA has Network IT, which is a fairly low-end product,” he said.

Vendors competing with NextPoint directly would include Concord Communications and INS, which was recently acquired by Lucent, Gassman said.

The NextPoint Server ( lists at US$12,000 with modules listing at approximately US$7,000 each. Users must also pay for element licences. Puranik said a typical deployment costs between US$30,000 and US$50,000.

NextPoint in Westford, Mass., can be reached at (978) 392-2026.

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