Getting To The Root Of Network Problems

ProactiveNet has received a patent on its root cause analysis technology, and has extended its ProactiveNet Web application performance management technology to manage Sun's iPlanet Application Server.

ProactiveNet Inc. added fuel to the root cause analysis fire this week when it announced it has received a patent on its technology.

In addition to its patent, the Santa Clara, Calif., firm also extended its ProactiveNet Web application performance management technology to manage Sun Microsystems Inc.s iPlanet Application Server release 6.5. With ProactiveNet release 4.0, ProactiveNet is rounding out its support of Sun platforms, which also include Solaris, iPlanet Messaging Server, iPlanet Portal Server, iPlanet Directory Server and iPlanet Web Server.

ProactiveNet patented the tools unique ability to "sift through real-time performance information to get to the one variable thats abnormal, causing performance to go South," said Ajay Singh, CEO of ProactiveNet.

It does that using statistical quality control. "We have a control chart of each and every variable we track by hour of day, day of week and seasonally. We self-learn what a normal operating load is," he explained.

The ProactiveNet system sets intelligent thresholds, figures out deviations from normal, then determines which abnormality is the most correlated to a transaction that has slowed. It also takes the abnormality through isolation filtering, scoring, categorization and statistical correlation. The statistical correlation looks for similar patterns happening at about the same time. The isolation filtering adds more domain knowledge into the elimination process by performing tests such as executing a transaction against a DNS server. If its normal, then any abnormality against that is de-prioritized.

With scoring and categorization, the end user adds their knowledge of the infrastructure, such as which resources an application relies on for certain transactions, according to Singh.

Once installed at a customers site, ProactiveNet learns what is normal performance for the site. ProactiveNet includes monitors that do data collection for the top selling infrastructure devices, including Web servers, firewalls, network devices, databases, and so on. ProactiveNet also gathers data from third-part agents and it has its own lightweight agent for devices that have no instrumentation. The longer it has to gather such knowledge, the more accurate it is.

Root cause analysis has taken off as IT operations look to get the most of their existing infrastructures and improve productivity. ProactiveNet competes with Mercury Interactive Corp., Quest Software Inc., System Management Arts Inc. and others in helping customers to speed fault isolation and diagnosis. The aim is to reduce down time, and to more quickly spot and fix performance problems before they affect end users.