Startup Takes On OpenView

Linmor claims its low-cost Nebula PM Appliance offers carrier-class network management.

Startup Linmor Inc. hopes to play David to the Goliaths of the network availability and performance management space with a new management appliance.

The Ottawa-based company will take on the likes of Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView with its low-cost Nebula PM Appliance, which offers carrier-class network management, according to company officials.

The Nebula appliance, which starts at $9,500, grew out of the companys original network management software, which is based largely on open source code, including Linux, SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) standards, the Apache Web server and open-source database technology.

"We can deliver the lowest-cost solution through the appliance/open-source technology approach," said a Linmor official.

Linmor further reduced the cost of operating the tool by simplifying the navigation in the appliance compared with the earlier software release, and by making it possible to expand a management domain by adding more appliances to an installation. The appliances automatically recognize each other and share management data.

One user working with the Linux software backed up the carrier-scale claims of the startup.

"The software is carrier-class as far as scalability and capacity," said the user at a carrier, who asked not to be named. The tool scales better than HPs OpenView and offers more features, the user added.

The Nebula PM Appliance uses SNMP to collect management data from the devices it can manage and provides Web-based reporting through an Apache Web server console.

The multithreaded software can collect data simultaneously from multiple sources, and its open-source database management system operates as a data warehouse for historical performance reporting, trending and analysis.

"We use the system to do fault management, capacity management and performance management for five or six different [routers from multiple vendors]," said the user.

Different networking elements can be grouped according to a particular service they are delivering, allowing operators to view the health of the service, he added.

The appliances perform auto-discovery of networking elements at layer one, layer two and layer three. When multiple appliances are deployed in a network, they automatically pass management data across the appliances data repository without requiring human intervention.

In Nebula appliances real-time management function, users can poll network hot spots to gather data.

The appliance is also integrated with MicroMuse Inc.s NetCool/Omnibus fault manager.

"There is an integration within Nebula that transfers events to NetCool, and it has backward integration to let you look at statistics that characterize how bad the fault is," the user said.

Early beta customer shipments of the 1U device, built to manage up to 250 networking devices, begin next month.

Customers who sign up for the beta produce receive a 50 percent discount. The appliance will be generally available in January.