Easing Network Management

 
 
By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2002-07-16
 
 
 

Easing Network Management


Alcatel SA and startup SmartPipes Inc. on Monday launched new network management software to help automate the setting of network policies for such applications as voice over IP and virtual private networks.

Alcatel launched new applications and features within its OmniVista 2000 network management software, available this month. The Paris-based company is offering a tool called PolicyView with "One Touch QoS" that would allow network managers to set quality-of-service policies across multiple Alcatel switches at once, rather than individually, for such applications as VoIP. The company also is offering for its newest switches a Web-based management interface, called WebView.

SmartPipes is expanding its suite of policy-based management tools for VPNs with its Remote Policy Management software line, launched at Burton Groups Catalyst conference in San Francisco. Available now, the tools allow for the management of such remote desktop client software as VPNs and dialers so the software stays updated and conforms to business use policies, officials said.

The new tools also facilitate orchestration of multiple desktop applications to enforce such policies as stopping Web browsing while connected to a corporate network via a VPN, said Ray Bell, chief technology officer and co-founder of SmartPipes, in Redwood City, Calif.

For Willis Marti, associate director of computing and information services at Texas A&M University, the latest features in Alcatels OmniVista software are helping to make network management smoother. Specifically, the PolicyView with One Touch QoS application was a major reason the university selected OmniVista.

"We are able to manage the whole network as a network, rather than a collection of devices," Marti said. "(That is) saving us a lot of time by eliminating the need for switch-by-switch configurations."

Along with the "one touch" abilities, the application also has an expert mode so users can define QoS based on any combination of IP addresses, MAC addresses, well-known TCP/UDP port numbers and VLAN groups, Alcatel officials said.

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Beyond the new PolicyView application and the web-based interface, OmniVista 2000 includes enhanced topological features so users can view layouts of both physical and logical networks and an application to monitor various statistics across multiple devices at one time, officials said.

OmniVista 2000 pricing starts at $4,500 for its core applications. PolicyView for One Touch QoS, an additional application, starts at $12,500.

SmartPipes, for its part, has homed in on network management for VPNs. Thats because enterprises are increasingly relying on VPNs--rather than private network connections--to connect offices and partners, Bell said.

"I believe IP VPN technologies are ready for mission critical business," he said.

The problem for network managers has been the complexity of configuring protocols and the continuous updating of users on VPNs, he said.

SmartPipes in June 2001 introduced its first two sets of applications for its Global IP Services software platform—IP VPN Management for managing VPN policies and CPE Management for managing the customer premise equipment. The new Remote Policy Management software joins them. Pricing for 100 desktops would list for about $12,000, Bell said.

SmartPipes currently supports Cisco Systems Inc. routers and VPN devices with its management software but is planning to work with multiple vendors platforms, Bell said.

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