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Network Instruments Increases Performance Management Capabilities

Monitoring and managing how well networks and applications perform in today's increasingly multi-tiered, highly distributed environments is complex. It requires information culled from the myriad network devices, systems and applications to understand where problems are occurring, how they are impacting end users, and how they can be resolved. Network Instruments is tackling this complexity with new additions to its Observer performance monitoring platform.

Observer Reporting Server (ORS), unveiled last month, provides dashboard displays of mission-critical application and service health via modules that can be configured to present up-to-the-minute updates on VoIP systems, cloud services, application response time, server health, MS Exchange performance and even URL-based performance reports from service providers. ORS is available as an appliance (an enterprise version) that can poll both locally and remotely; a software version is also available.

This month, Network Instruments added Observer Infrastructure, a tool that reports to ORS and watches an organization's network infrastructure, thus complementing its existing technologies for packet and application performance management. Observer Infrastructure includes device health monitoring, IP service level agreement testing, server monitoring, event notification and mapping.

"This is a single solution to help customers understand performance in a multi-tiered, highly distributed environment," says Brad Reinboldt, product manager at Network Instruments. Observer Infrastructure is an upgrade to Network Instrument's previous Link Analyst, with new features including support for Cisco Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR), which can intelligently identify and classify mission-critical applications to help delegate and ensure service levels, Cisco IP SLA, which helps administrators analyze IP service levels for IP applications and services, and Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS), an optimization solution that accelerates applications over the WAN. The Cisco IP SLA support can, for example, enable regular testing of network responsiveness and actively simulate VoIP calls. The tool also leverages SNMP and Microsoft's Window Management Instrumentation (WMI) and Web Services on Devices (WSD) to obtain device performance and related status metrics.

More importantly, Network Instruments has tightly integrated Observer Infrastructure into its Observer platform--which includes Observer for troubleshooting and Gigastor for trend analysis, long-term data capture and data mining--so that network operations teams can have a completely integrated view of performance on a single console. "The integration adds an additional viewpoint to Observer and Gigastor, providing deep, detailed views of what is going on with application to application performance and the health of the actual devices that make up a network," says Jim Frey, research director with research, analysis and consulting firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). Frey says network operation centers typically have to rely on multiple products to provide all the performance management and monitoring information they need. "The integration here is a really strong story."

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