Startup looks to bolster route-control tools

NetVmg Inc., one of a group of vendors in the emerging market for route-control appliances, this month unveiled software designed to let network managers create what-if scenarios for comparing the costs charged by different wide-area network service providers based on their real-world IT needs.

The upgrade also lets users set policies that dictate whether different types of WAN traffic should be routed over network links at the lowest possible cost or the highest performance level. In addition, new mapping capabilities instantly show alternative routes around brownouts and other network snags, according to Fremont, Calif.-based netVmg.

Company officials said netVmg will provide Version 3.0 of its Flow Control Platform (FCP) software free to users of its existing high-end hardware, the FCP 1000 and FCP 5000. The company is also adding two new rack-mounted appliances, the FCP 100 and FCP 500, that start at US$25,000 and can be used to sniff all network traffic passing through switches at the edge of LANs. LLC, a Denver-based IT hosting firm with about 400 servers installed in its data centres, plans to deploy the new software within a month, said Fred Franzel, its vice-president of network operations.

The new capabilities should help as the company adds six network operators to its current roster of three firms during the next 12 months. “You can model and predict what it will cost on the bottom line,” Franzel said. installed a single FCP appliance in October and has found the US$75,000 device to be cost-effective in holding network providers to their service-level agreements and increasing the productivity of its network management staff, said company CEO John Burns.

In addition, Franzel said the routing control technology helped the hosting company avoid network delays for its customers when the Slammer worm hit the Internet last month.

NetVmg has been the most consistent of the route-control vendors in adding features to its technology, said Melissa Phillips, an analyst at In-Stat/MDR in Newton, Mass. Its competitors include RouteScience Technologies Inc. in San Mateo, Calif., Proficient Systems Inc. in Atlanta and Sockeye Networks Inc. in Waltham, Mass. Sockeye offers route control as a managed service for companies that don’t have large enough IT staffs to run the route-control software themselves.

The market first emerged in late 2001 and remains tiny, with total sales of about US$1 million last year, Phillips said. “Every company is going back to basics, and nobody thinks of route control until an outage or expenses associated with that happens to them,” she said.

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