Apparent Networks Makes Move to Real-Time Monitoring

Apparent bolsters its flagship AppCritical software to make it a real-time network application performance monitoring package.

Apparent Networks on Jan. 14 hopes to move beyond being a diagnostics tool provider for network engineers into a more real-time network application performance monitoring provider with a major new upgrade to its flagship AppCritical software.

With AppCritical version 3.3, Apparent Networks revamped the tool to appeal to more midsize and large enterprises with a new real-time reporting engine, the ability to send notifications to different types of users, and several other new features.

Apparent Networks, as part of a renewed effort to appeal more broadly to enterprise management customers, last fall added new funding, revamped its executive team, and moved its headquarters to Wellesley, Mass., from Vancouver, British Columbia.

It's also working to change the perception of its tool from being a pre-deployment assessment and troubleshooting tool to being an essential part of the network operations center.

"AppCritical 3.3 is a significant milestone," said Steve Mank, chief marketing officer. It [now] directly ties user experience with network performance in real time and gives clearer information on why (when there are performance problems) it's not working well. It gives actionable information in context," he added.

Video conferencing managed services provider York Telecom, which beta tested AppCritical 3.3, found the new release allows it to be more proactive when problems occur across networks, including a carrier's network, according to Bin Guan, chief technology officer at the company, in Eatontown, N.J.

"Now anything that happens in the network I can see from my real-time dashboard," said Guan, who added that the new release allows performance data to be customized for different users.

Because AppCritical can pinpoint the source of performance problems across network boundaries, it also helps to eliminate finger pointing between York Telecom and the network providers it relies on to deliver its service.

"We handle real-time traffic, so this is very critical for us to provide [quality of service] to our clients. That is why this is an important monitoring tool. Otherwise the video won't have full quality, and the customer will suffer," Guan said.

AppCritical 3.3 further automates installation by assessing the ability of servers it will be installed on to support it. It can assess compute power and system parameters, and then run automatically after installation.

Also new in version 3.3 is the ability to focus its analysis functions on specific network paths without disabling an entire group of paths. And new rule-based notification allows users to customize escalation procedures so that the appropriate alerts go to specific individuals only when necessary.

"We can take classes of issues identified in AppCritical and send them selectively to different individuals who are using existing management platform consoles such as [Hewlett-Packard's] Openview," said Mank.

Industry analyst Dennis Drogseth, who has followed Apparent Networks for some time at Enterprise Management Associates, was surprised to learn that the company had "fallen into a purely diagnostic mode," he said. "They exploit the real-time capability already in the product with better visualization, analysis and reporting, and they made it much more complete. It needs to live as a real-time, dynamic visibility engine for the application across the infrastructure," he said.

AppCritical 3.3 is available now.