IT managers looking to better understand how applications use their network infrastructure — and more quickly spot potential failures — have a newcomer to the application management market to consider.

NLayers Ltd., which has received more than US$4 million in venture funding over the past year, next week will launch its InSight product suite. Founder and CEO Gili Raanan says InSight can build a dynamic model of elements that support applications and alert network managers when a change in the infrastructure will adversely affect application performance.

“We model physical servers and application dependencies. We simplify a very complicated system so customers can make better use of it,” Raanan says.

InSight uses a rack-mountable appliance loaded with software that sits in a customer data centre and passively monitors traffic using multiple network interface cards to connect to servers and switches. InSight collects copies of application packets crossing the network, stores the information in a built-in database and uses it to model application behavior and create baselines. Instead of SNMP polling, the product uses proprietary algorithms and APIs to gather data from network components in the application infrastructure, a combination of devices, servers, databases and users on which applications depend.

Market research firm APM Advisors says companies such as Collation Inc., Relicore Inc. and Vieo Inc. also attempt to identify application components and map dependencies between multiple elements to monitor performance. For example, if an end user or a business unit depends on a server that runs PeopleSoft, which depends on a specific switch and so on, the product can identify where along the chain performance degraded and what will be affected.

Lynn Nye, president of APM Advisors, says InSight can give customers a comprehensive view of their application network and let them know in advance how changes, such as adding software to a Web server or rerouting Web traffic through a different server, could affect application performance.

“NLayers is focused on giving customers a picture of what they have and showing them how changes did affect application performance and how new changes could impact performance,” Nye said. While passive monitoring is a good start, Nye adds, the company eventually will need to upgrade its product to include active polling and data gathering if it wants to compete with Computer Associates International Inc., IBM Tivoli and Mercury Interactive Corp., which also are looking to manage application infrastructure.

Pricing for nLayers InSight starts at about US$2,500 monthly with the subscription payment model or US$45,000 for a perpetual license.

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