The evolution of Visual Networks shows how a company can build from its strengths and learn from its failures.\n\u00a0\nVisual Networks was one of the leading pioneers in service-level management in the mid-1990s with Visual UpTime, its Committed Information Rate product that assessed frame relay service-level agreement (SLA) compliance between service providers and their enterprise customers.\u00a0 Visual extended UpTime to support ATM and eventually IP traffic, and later released IP Insight, which enabled Visual to support IP response time at the desktop for Internet provided services.The evolution of Visual Networks shows how a company can build from its strengths and learn from its failures.\u00a0Visual Networks was one of the leading pioneers in service-level management in the mid-1990s with Visual UpTime, its Committed Information Rate product that assessed frame relay service-level agreement (SLA) compliance between service providers and their enterprise customers.\u00a0 Visual extended UpTime to support ATM and eventually IP traffic, and later released IP Insight, which enabled Visual to support IP response time at the desktop for Internet provided services.The two products fitted naturally as IP Insight's focus on clean, localized deployment with its desktop agents complemented UpTime's Analysis Service Element (ASE), a Data Service Unit\/Channel Service Unit (DSU\/CSU) for collecting network performance information between a router and the WAN cloud.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0However, Visual's exploration of root cause analysis with its Avesta acquisition proved more troublesome as it required a substantially enhanced service support organization for deployment. This repositioned Visual away from performance to focus across the full internal enterprise without necessarily reinforcing Visual's traditional sweet spot - performance management between the enterprise and the service provider.\u00a0In these "times of troubles," which spanned the end of the dot-com boom at the end of the 1990s, Visual eventually jettisoned its root cause initiative and repositioned itself to harvest its successful service provider business, which was largely driven by service providers reselling UpTime to enterprise buyers.\u00a0 It continued to broaden its functionality to support just about any type of network access, including class of service over IP\/MPLS.Beginning late last year and through the spring\/summer of this, Visual has been introducing a series of developments that refocuses its business back to the enterprise. But this time it is capitalizing on its strengths in performance management and flexible deployment, while empowering the enterprise to govern critical business services in the face of service provider-WAN dependencies.\u00a0Visual has added significant insights into application level behavior to make these native strengths better. The enhancements cumulatively provide enterprises with solid information for both troubleshooting and optimizing network investments as they introduce, maintain or enhance application services.\u00a0The company has also announced a flexible means for purchasing functionality with UpTime Select so that an enterprise can choose, for instance, from modules such as WAN Troubleshooting and Back in Time Traffic Capture (for historical analysis), and class of service. The new application capabilities are also modular choices.\u00a0 For instance, list pricing for Visual's Application Flows Module is $1,500 per site.\u00a0 Pricing of the Application Summary Module is $500 per site, with a combined price of $1,700 for both modules.Visual UpTime Select's application analyses include analysis of client-to-client, client-to-server, and server-to-server performance.\u00a0 UpTime leverages packet analysis as well as port assignments to identify applications, and can drill down to individual application transactions (e.g., with an Oracle database).\u00a0\u00a0 Since Visual is committed to the enterprise market, and since it recognizes that application services are the ultimate and prime concern for that market, it will continue to aggressively enrich its application capabilities.\u00a0EMA has been in dialog with a number of Visual enterprise customers in the last eight months.\u00a0 These customers are strongly positive about Visual's ability to assess utilization, understand application-specific information on WAN connections, and manage to keep their own user populations (individual application bandwidth hogs or inappropriate traffic) and their service providers in line.\u00a0 Of particular interest is the ability of UpTime to "see into carrier-related SLAs," including class of service, round trip delay, availability and packet delivery ratios. UpTime also provides rapid diagnostic insights into viruses and helps isolate problems, as well as assist in baselining and planning in times of mergers and consolidation, or simply help with adds, moves and changes.\u00a0\u00a0EMA believes that Visual's current market direction is the right one for its overall mix of product, value and culture.\u00a0 While Visual will enhance its application management capabilities, it doesn't mean it is positioning itself to become the next BMC.\u00a0 Rather, Visual's core strengths coalesce well in an enterprise universe in which data center and WAN performance must combine, and in which applications are increasingly a geographical, rather than localized phenomenon that are no longer isolated and apart from, but dependent on and are citizens of the network.