Emerging apps need special attention
As general-purpose data networks begin to carry more diverse types of traffic that are more sensitive to transmission errors, such as video and voice over IP, quality of service will become an important feature that most network analysis tools will have to support.
"The thing with [quality of service] is that you'll need to know what you need for each application or service," said John Fulmer, vice president of DigitalNet LLC's Enterprise Management Center. "You'll have to use the tools to know how much bandwidth to reserve, so you'll be sure your networks can handle such things as" voice over IP.
Elements of Concord Communications Inc.'s eHealth suite of tools, for example, can run "what if" analyses to determine what kind of capacity would be needed for specific applications.
"Customers can use our tools to segment portions of their network bandwidth and give priority to some services over others," said Frank Kettenstock, vice president of product marketing at Concord. "There are gold, silver and bronze levels of priority, with applications such as [voice over IP] getting the gold."
Some vendors are just starting to add voice-over-IP support to their products, while others already have it but haven't had much use for it yet.
Industry players expect that situation to change quickly. Network Instruments LLC officials have included voice-over-IP support in the company's tools for the past five years, said Douglas Smith, Network Instruments' president, but officials are now seeing major demand.
"I've been shocked at how fast it's developed," he said.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.