Mgmt. vendors to focus on automation

A slew of management product vendors this week will use NetWorld+Interop to tout out-of-the-box automation, integration and visibility features.

LAS VEGAS - A slew of management product vendors this week will use NetWorld+Interop to tout out-of-the-box automation, integration and visibility features.

Companies planning to make announcements - some software, some hardware - include Aprisma, BMC Software and Smarts. Computer Associates also is promising news related to its on-demand computing strategy and Unicenter management system, but details could not be learned by press time.

Elisabeth Rainge, who tracks management technologies as a program director for IDC, says vendors seem less concerned these days with flooding the market with point products. Instead, they are adding or expanding automation and other features that "address staffing cuts and the loss of knowledge from IT departments." Although she notes that such features "would have been useful years ago as well."

What follows is a sampling of announcements planned for the show.

Smarts gets its products on same page

Smarts says it is creating common code across its management consoles and applications to enable easier rollouts and better data sharing. Until now, customers had to write code to enable integration among Smarts' products, including its InCharge Service Assurance Manager (SAM), an application performance management program now on Version 6.0.

"There have always been a lot of management tools, all doing their own thing, but now vendors are working to make some sense of them and the data they collect," says Glenn O'Donnell, a program director at Meta Group.

"Smarts is working toward that kind of consolidation," he adds.

In SAM 6.0, Smarts also is introducing a feature that lets network managers build operational workflow and problem escalation rules into the software. The software then takes actions based on the rules.

The company says the feature helps tie operational processes directly to IT elements and eliminate redundant, manual tasks.

The upgraded software, which starts at $55,000, is scheduled to ship at the end of June.

BMC takes guesswork out of Web servers

In an effort to get speedier results to its users, BMC is including a root-cause analysis module in Patrol Internet Server Manager 6.1. The software, which is for managing Web, mail, FTP and other servers, now can perform the basic troubleshooting tasks of a network administrator.

"We built in our experience with 75% to 90% of the most typical problems with Internet servers and how to go about troubleshooting them," says Robert Anderson, a product manager at BMC. "Instead of just saying a server has failed, the software can now tell the admin the cause and even fix it if [Patrol has] been configured to do so."

Version 6.1 can run either on the managed server or be used to keep an eye on Internet servers remotely from a dedicated workgroup server. The software uses native protocols to collect data and take automated actions on the servers, and it delivers data back to the Patrol Management Console or consoles from competitors such as HP and IBM Tivoli. (For other BMC news, see page 30.)

Version 6.1 costs about $2,000 per workgroup server and about $500 per remote host.

Fluke reaches into the WAN

Traditionally a maker of LAN troubleshooting devices, Fluke Networks this week will make a foray into WAN management and analysis.

The company's new OC-3/OC-12 OptiView WAN Analyzer is an appliance for monitoring WAN endpoints, virtual circuits and the traffic that traverses ATM and packet-over-SONET networks. The appliance plugs into the network and into the outgoing and incoming router ports. Upon installation, the appliance performs an automated discovery of the devices tapping into a particular WAN circuit. Software embedded in the appliance also reads packets and populates an on-board database with information about the devices and applications using the WAN circuit.

Fluke says having the appliance in place will enable automatic problem detection, identify the "top talkers" on the WAN and filter packets to only report those with errors to network engineers. The product can be used with or without other Fluke products, such as its LAN analyzers and network management console.

OptiView WAN Analyzer for OC-3 pricing starts at about $18,000 and for OC-3/OC-12 version, $28,000. OptiView WAN Analyzers for T-1, E-1 and T-3 links are planned for year-end.

Panacya adding apps intelligence

Panacya is updating its flagship BusinessAware application management software with what the company says is 80% to 85% of what all customers need to know about BEA Systems' WebLogic application server. Panacya also has included management information for Sun Solaris servers, Oracle databases and Cisco devices in BusinessAware 2.2.

The company says that by writing this knowledge into the software, BusinessAware now can be installed within weeks instead of months and can alert companies to potential problems more quickly. The software also now includes prepackaged modules for the automated analysis and monitoring of enterprise applications.

The central component of Version 2.2 runs on a Solaris or Windows NT/2000 server, and from there, lightweight agents are pushed out to the devices to be managed. The agents each contain Web server software to let network managers access real-time performance data, such as response time and availability, via a Web browser. The performance data collected on each agent is stored in a central repository for long-term trending and historical reports. Panacya lets users create and customize software modules to watch over known performance problems or specific applications.

An agentless option also is available. BusinessAware 2.2 costs about $50,000.

MPLS nets are in Aprisma's sights

Aprisma is readying a version of its flagship Spectrum network management software specifically designed to give customers more insight into their Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks.

Spectrum MPLS Manager would seem to be applicable mainly to carriers, which have started to roll out MPLS-based VPNs and other services, although Aprisma says some large companies have MPLS in their networks, too. (However, the product is being tested initially in two carrier networks.)

Aprisma says the software will help companies understand how logical and physical networks interrelate and how an outage ultimately will affect MPLS services.

"Physical layer failure may not affect the data path, but there are about six steps that need to be taken to figure that out. We're trying to eliminate a lot of that effort," says Jim Lochran, a solution architect at Aprisma.

Once installed, Spectrum MPLS Manager will do an initial discovery of the physical and logical topology of a network. It then will use SNMP traps exported from Cisco and Juniper devices to update any changes to the stored topology. Then it will determine the effect of alarms in the Layer 3 connectivity of customer networks.

Spectrum MPLS Manager is scheduled to be available in June. Pricing will range from $10,000 to $25,000.

Lumeta reworks service into an appliance

Lumeta, an N+I newcomer, is taking its network inventory and security scanning service and putting the technology into a package of server and sensor appliances.

The server appliance, called IPsonar, resides in a company's network operations center, and sensors can be located inside and outside of corporate firewalls. The appliances automatically discover servers and other devices on the network.

IPsonar costs about $21,500.

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Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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