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Network Performance Monitoring Startup Analyzes Live Data

Sideband Networks appliance aims to provide better visibility into the network plus recommendations for network fixes based on live analysis of Layers 2 to 7 traffic.

Startup Sideband Networks officially launched today with an appliance it claims provides better visibility into applications and devices running on a network, and also offers advice on how to remedy performance issues based on live data.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's XRE-4000 hardware appliances targets enterprises and cloud providers, co-founder Sherman Tang says. The XRE, which will also be available in a virtual form factor, processes data at more than 40 Gbps from network applications, users and devices from Layer 2 through Layer 7.

Sideband’s appliance is designed to correlate live data with logged data and to alert network administrators before an issue affects network performance. Recommendations might include creating policies to throttle certain network traffic, depending on bandwidth conditions, or prioritizing particular applications.

Tang said Sideband is a network performance monitoring (NPM) vendor that is steadily adding application performance monitoring (APM) capabilities and aims to fill a gap between NPM and APM. Most NPM and APM tools provide intelligence based on historical statistics, he says: “Not many are doing live analytics."

[Find out about free tools that provide network managers with a better foothold for improvement performance and spotting potential problems in our "10 Free Network Analyzers" slideshow.]

Lee Doyle, principal analyst with Doyle Research, says Sideband's product is an example of a whole new class of network performance tools coming to market and focuses on the value of actionable advice, not just generated reports. “The legacy vendors have not got there,” he says. “They have expensive boxes that give you a lot of data, but don’t tell you what to do with it.”

Doyle says Sideband is not the only startup looking at this market, which is ripe for innovation but also crowded with legacy vendors, both on the NPM and APM side.

The recent InformationWeek report "Under Fire: Why You Need APM More Than Ever" notes that some IT pros have written off APM systems as not being up to the challenge of monitoring today’s distributed applications, with APM systems that were once leaders a couple of years ago struggling to keep up with environments where resources and data can be just about anywhere.

Sideband was founded a year ago and privately funded by angel investors. The company's XRE-4000 uses deep packet inspection to create a diagram of the network that includes physical and logical connections, including mobile devices. It can also be used as a planning tool to create a topology map, simulate and test network change configurations.

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