Route analytics will become a must-have for enterprise network managers - or so says a recent report by Meta Group, which details why the currently nascent market will grow dramatically by 2009.Meta Group Program Director Glenn O'Donnell detailed in a recent paper how the small market (around $5 million now) will expand rapidly to provide broader topology discovery and configuration management data."By capturing another dimension of complex network topology relationships, IT organizations can more effectively understand the impact of dynamic network changes on business services and operational processes," O'Donnell wrote in the Meta paper.Route analytics technology emerged in the past few years as a means to better understand how traffic makes its way across multiple network components.Vendors such as Ipsum Networks and Packet Design introduced products that help network managers get a picture of the actual routing paths taken across enterprise nets.The technology expands upon router management, which is done on a hardware-element level. Typically, this approach would involve monitoring the status of physical Layer 2 links, ports, modules and the entire stand-alone system. Industry watchers say this traditional technique limits the ability of network managers to get a complete picture of how the network is operating because it only conveys the physical topology."Many logical overlays to this topology exist, including network routes," O'Donnell explains. Combining the physical and logical views will provide a more complete picture of network topology and routing patterns. O'Donnell predicts infrastructure and application management vendors will be taking more of an interest in route analytics in the coming year. HP actually OEMed technology from Packet Design to be included in the company's OpenView management software suite.It will be interesting to see how other vendors tackle this problem, because device-centric discovery mechanisms cannot capture all the routes. And as networks grow, it becomes increasingly more difficult to track both the physical and logical layers. Even route analytics technologies could fall short on delivering the "end-to-end" visibility network managers need, O'Donnell says."If the two ends are directly related network nodes (for example, client\/server), route analytics - in conjunction with the physical view - will offer a good end-to-end perspective," O'Donnell wrote. "In n-tier applications, where server-based software is a key link in the service chain, end-to-end visibility will continue to be ambiguous."O'Donnell concludes that route analytics products must both participate in the negotiations between routers and feed that data to larger event management systems to correlate the data with potential service incidents. Route analytics should also be incorporated into network managers' configuration management strategy. Route analytics combined with configuration management could help IT managers optimize their networks.