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NetScout Expands Application Performance Management Tools To HP Switches

NetScout's nGenius product portfolio now integrates its software probes into HP switches. The products provide a unified, business-centric view of the performance of critical transactions, application and networks. The nGenius Integrated Agent for HP combines NetScout's nGenius intelligent data sources, or probes, with the HP AllianceONE Advanced Services zl Module so they can be used with the E8200 or E5400 series switches. The nGenius probes collect and analyze user traffic on a distributed basis. Each probe contains an analytics engine that constantly learns behavior to build performance baselines.

The user, application and network performance information collected by the integrated solution is fed into the nGenius Service Assurance Solution to help IT understand resource impact and all interdependencies across networks, servers, applications and users. NetScout's other data sources for its nGenius Service Assurance Solution include the nGenius Virtual Agent for VMware virtual server environments and the nGenius Integrated Agent for the Cisco Integrated Services Router.

The integration with the HP switches furthers NetScout's strategy to provide visibility across the enterprise, from the data center and out into the branch offices. The probes perform deep packet analysis on the switches to better understand how traffic behaves out in the network. For example, in a cloud computing environment or among end users in branch offices whose network interactions may not pass through the data center.

The solution uses the packet-forwarding capabilities of the HP switches and monitors and analyzes traffic flowing across the backplane to reveal real-time application and service performance metrics such as traffic, application and service utilization, conversations, error conditions, resource utilization and response times. All the data is collected, analyzed and stored locally. The HP AllianceONE Advanced Services zl Module provides local processing capabilities using its own processor, hard disk, network interfaces and memory, which operate independently of the host switch processing resources, minimizing any performance impact to the switching platform.

The integrated HP AllianceONE Advanced Services zl Module and nGenius probe technology eliminate the need for separate monitoring hardware. In addition, the integrated system can use a feature within the HP switches called mirroring that enables a switch to replicate its traffic and send it to another chassis--in particular a chassis that has the integrated module and nGenius probe for deep packet analysis of traffic and performance.

Jim Frey, research director with Enterprise Management Associates, says the integration increases the overall value of the NetScout solution. "One of the important things for solutions like NetScout's is that with more instrumentation, the better value you get out of the solution. For anyone who has made an investment into these HP switch platforms, it is easier to deploy than a traditional NetScout probe." The module with the integrated agent software can be inserted and connected directly into the fabric of HP's chassis-based switch platforms.

NetScout has upgraded the software agent's capabilities, as well, Frey says. In particular, it offers greater capacity than the agent designed for the Cisco routers. "This agent can be fit into distribution switches that, generally speaking, have much higher rates of data." The integrated system can also deliver metrics to HP's enterprise management platforms, which are designed to provide network and application monitoring and performance management from the network point of view, NetScout says.

The nGenius Integrated Agent for HP is a self-contained application that is deployed on an HP AllianceONE Advanced Services zl Module, which is inserted into an HP Networking E8200 and E5400 Switch Series platform. It has completed the HP AllianceONE Integrated Certification Program and has been tested in trials and with a number of joint customers. The software will be available later this month, when the HP AllianceONE Advanced Services zl Module becomes available. Pricing has not yet been announced, but NetScout company officials expect the application to cost about $9,000.