New appliances offer view from above

Peter Sevcik, president of NetForecast Inc., believes the future of network analysis wares belongs to flow-oriented appliances.

An example is Network Physics Inc.'s NP-2000. Information technology managers connect the appliance directly to the network, where it can monitor traffic flow in real-time between IP addresses, such as server and client or user and application, and in both the internal and external networks of an enterprise. It displays performance and data-packet statistics in relation to how they impact business services, network performance and users.

A major benefit is that these appliances are largely independent of the infrastructure. That's in comparison to traditional software-based analysis tools that must be loaded on to network-connected systems like servers or switches and that have to be reprogrammed as networks change, driving up management costs. The appliances cost less to operate over the long term, Sevcik said.

"Users can keep their traditional tools, which they'll need to look at particular elements in the network, but over time, they won't need to invest so much in them because they'll be able to rely on the appliance tools for performance analysis," he said.

Other leading vendors of these types of appliance-based tools are Adlex Inc., Coradiant Inc., NetQoS Inc. and SeaNet Technologies Inc., Sevcik said. Tools aimed more at the data center include products from NetIQ Corp., ProactiveNet Inc. and Vieo Inc.

More-established tool vendors are not yet investing in this type of technology, he said. But he thinks they will have to at some point, either through developing their own solutions or buying these smaller vendors.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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