Cisco Suite Breaks Ground

Tools aid multivendor network management.

Cisco Systems Inc. this week will launch a suite of network management tools that marks the companys first attempt at providing multivendor network management.

The Network Application Performance Analysis suite, comprising both tools and services, is aimed at helping network operators optimize performance to meet the requirements of both planned and existing applications.

The suite, code-named Apex, includes four new tools and four services designed to help customers with planning, deployment and optimization. The tools include Cisco Application Analysis Solution; Cisco Network Planning Solution; Cisco Bandwidth Quality Analysis; and Cisco Performance Visualization Manager, a portal that provides a view across the portfolio, according to sources familiar with the offerings.

The services include Cisco Application Performance Tools Deployment, Cisco Application Performance Optimization, Cisco Application Performance Troubleshooting and Cisco Application Performance Benchmarking, sources said.

The application analysis and network planning tools draw on technology from Opnet Technologies Inc. that uses a unique model and configuration analysis capability to perform advanced troubleshooting with applications and network configurations, sources said.

Ciscos Bandwidth Quality Analysis gathers data on how links are being used so that they can be optimized for applications. It is integrated with Ciscos existing CiscoWorks Resource Manager Essentials, one source said.

The suite also uses agent technology from Corvil Ltd. that provides millisecond measurement and quantification of bandwidth quality. The Dublin, Ireland, companys agent, which runs in Cisco IOS (Internetwork Operating System) software on Cisco Integrated Services Routers, is a QOS (quality of service) technology aimed at ensuring predictable data, voice and video performance.

The suite reflects a trend in the industry to raise the level of network management beyond fault management of network elements and help IT prove its value to the business, according to Jim Metzler, vice president at Ashton, Metzler & Associates, in Sanibel, Fla.

"What business managers care about is not MPLS [Multiprotocol Label Switching], SSL [Secure Sockets Layer] or whatever, but they care about the applications they use on a regular basis. For IT to show its relevance, it had better make sure the key systems that the company uses to run its business are doing well, and if theyre not doing well, they need to be fixed," Metzler said.

The suite also marks a sea change in Ciscos commitment to helping customers manage applications across enterprise networks, said Dennis Drogseth, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, in Portsmouth, N.H.

Ciscos NAPA at a glance


* Application Analysis Solution

* Network Planning Solution

* Bandwidth Quality Analysis

* Performance Visualization Manager


* Application Performance Tools Deployment

* Application Performance Optimization

* Application Performance Troubleshooting

* Application Performance Benchmarking

Getting TCP/IPsy

Here are some of the improvements to Vistas Next Generation TCP/IP stack:

* Integrated IPv6 The Next Generation TCP/IP stack integrates IPv4 and IPv6 on one stack and enables both by default.

* Windows Filtering Platform Microsoft replaced interfaces in TCP/IP for IPSec, firewalls and packet filters with Windows Filtering Platform, or WFP, a new architecture for TCP/IP packet processing that is more secure and better integrated into the TCP/IP stack.

* Routing compartments Routing compartments are combinations of Windows interfaces with log-in sessions, each with its own private IP routing tables. Routing compartments are designed to isolate unauthorized traffic from the Internet from intranet traffic over a VPN connection.