HP invests in route analytics with Packet Design

* HP teams up with Packet Design for its route analytics

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Last week, HP said it would OEM Packet Design’s Route Explorer as an integrated option within HP’s Network Node Manager.

The integrated capability is expected to ship in the spring, so pricing and packaging are likely to be announced then.

The OEM announcement shows that HP grasps the value of route analytics as an extension of root-cause analysis in NNM. For you to appreciate the real significance of this announcement - the first and inevitable question to answer is, what is “route analytics”?

To be perfectly candid, the name is, in my view, poor-to-terrible in capturing the broader implications for the technology - which can help to streamline network troubleshooting, as well as broader infrastructure and service management as the technology matures.

Route analytics technology (most notably that from Packet Design and Ipsum) engages with a network virtually as a “router” and “listens,” without polling, as the real routers talk to each other. It captures the changing network topology and determines routing changes in real time. As a result it is scalable, and not limited by firewalls. Packet Design’s Route Explorer supports OSPF, IS-IS and BGP, with EIGRP in beta. Ipsum’s Route Dynamics currently supports OSPF but will be introducing BGP in the coming months, and is introducing increasingly granular insight into Layer 3 impact on application services.

These tools capture information that can immediately alert you when a service becomes vulnerable because alternate, back-up routes are taken - a problem that will go unnoticed by most other management tools today. They can also capture routing-specific problems, such as route flapping. Finally, because they have visibility into the IP service path (and by pairing ports can potentially identify application-specific conversations), they can help to focus network troubleshooting on the factors most likely to affect a given service experience. 

Price points for the initial offerings in this “sub-market” - most notably for Packet Design’s Route Explorer and for Ipsum’s Route Dynamics - remain high (above $50,000, typically, including hardware), although deployment, administration and usage are comparatively easy, which saves on operational costs. When the net effects of operational efficiencies are brought into account - such as quicker repairs - the return on investment can be considerable for complex enterprise and service provider networks.

HP is targeting data-level integration initially, so that Route Explorer can provide ongoing, real-time alerts as service path routes become modified, or problems are detected related to routing protocols. These can trigger alerts to users - integrated into the OpenView console - or else they can trigger more polling and examination to provide root-cause analysis through the Event Correlation System. This means HP will be building data models for NNM specific to Route Explorer-driven events.

Assuming that HP delivers as promised, this means that the ability of route analytics to orchestrate greater efficiencies across the broader troubleshooting process will be solid from Day One. Future enhancements from HP will target integration with Performance Insight, since routing-related problems are as germane to performance management as they are to availability management.

HP seems well aware of the relevance of routing “up the stack” to affect application and business services. In other words, look over time for this partnership to affect HP’s broader service management strategy across the OpenView portfolio.

This investment holds the potential to benefit many HP customers, and should go a long way in HP’s efforts to assert technology leadership as well as market leadership for Network Node Manager. Over time, I believe it could become a competitive edge for the full OpenView portfolio.

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