With an eye on helping network managers meet service level objectives and communicate their effectiveness with business managers, CA on October 30 will release a revamped version of its eHealth network performance management tool.
As network managers take on responsibility for more services running over the networks they manage, the need for more effective reporting and communication with business managers is increasing, according to Michael Marks, vice president of product marketing for network management products at CA in Framingham, Mass.
The addition of critical, real-time services to the network "means the network managers jobs are far more complex than they were a couple of years ago. They have more visibility in the organization, but staffs havent increased in size," he said.
To better support its network manager customers, CA revamped the reporting front end in eHealth 6.0. Specifically, CA embedded the Cognos reporting engine into eHealth, providing users with a professional grade Web report editor.
That allows network managers to create performance reports geared toward different constituents and organize reports based on the class of user, type of problem to be solved, and so on.
Reports in the new eHealth Report Center can address what-if scenarios to answer such questions as, what will happen to performance if x number of users are added to a branch office network?
Reports can also document service-level agreement compliance for line-of-business managers.
CA also seeks to streamline administration of the tool by developing a single user interface that encompasses a range of tasks, including handling moves/adds/changes, grouping devices according to the services they support.
"Before we had multiple types of user interfaces. There were different places you had to go to in order to perform tasks. They werent aligned with how people did their work," Marks said.
Integration is also a primary focus in eHealth 6.0. To better coordinate with operations management, CA integrated eHealth with both its internally developed Unicenter NSM (Network Systems Management) as well as with the CA Spectrum network fault management software that was a part of the Concord Communications acquisition that reaped CA the eHealth offering.
Integration with the management command center console in Unicenter NSM Version 11.1 allows smooth navigation between network and systems management.
At the same time, a new database API allows performance data to be fed from eHealth to external systems for modeling, capacity planning, billing and accounting.
"That type of automation allows people to be more productive and responsive and it [helps eliminate] errors," said Marks.
More broadly, CA also integrated eHealth with third-party tools, including Hewlett-Packards OpenView Network Node Manager and IBMs NetCool, acquired with Micromuse. That integration provides access to real-time and historical performance data in context.
"Users are looking for out of box integrations. Vendors increasingly are offering it," reacted industry analyst Stephen Elliot at IDC in Framingham, Mass.
CA acquired eHealth in 2005 when it acquired Concord Communications, along with Concords Spectrum fault management software.
More broadly, the new eHealth release serves to send a message to the installed base that CA is addressing users changing requirements, Elliot believes.
"It shows theyve really listened and uplifted some of the features and functions customers have been asking for. Thats important as customers start to evaluate the impact that CA ownership has had. It can really help establish trust," he said.
The new release also addresses the need to poll devices to gather performance data in shorter intervals. That need, driven by real-time services such as voice over IP or video over IP, resulted in new polling intervals of 30 seconds, rather than every five minutes.
In order to avoid overwhelming the network with management traffic, "the 30-second polling will be done selectively on [just] the part of the infrastructure that supports real time services," said Marks.
The new release will be available October 30 with pricing starting at $50,000.