Cisco Exits Probe Market

Departure leaves door wide open for rivals with tools that monitor traffic, prioritize bandwidth

Cisco systems inc.s decision to stop selling NetScout Systems Inc.s nGenius probe under its own private label has lit a fire under rival vendors eager to serve users looking for tools that monitor traffic and prioritize bandwidth.

The San Jose, Calif., companys departure from the probe business last week came after NetScout balked at giving the networking giant bigger discounts and a larger share of sales, NetScout officials said.

"We already knew the customers, and we were providing a lot of the support," said Peggy Flynn, a spokeswoman for NetScout, in Westford, Mass. "Rather than discount even further, we decided to go directly to Cisco customers."

NetScout continues to work with Cisco to develop compatible products, and the vendors exchange technology plans quarterly, Flynn said.

But others now plan to go directly to Cisco customers as well. NetReality Ltd., of Santa Clara, Calif., is offering special incentives to Cisco resellers. Among the perks, resellers that have been selling NetScouts product will receive accelerated acceptance into NetRealitys partnership program.

NetReality makes a network application priority switch that integrates traffic monitoring and prioritizing. Called WiseWan, the hardware/software product automatically allocates bandwidth to priority applications based on customizable rules.

Lexmark International Inc., of Lexington, Ky., uses WiseWan products to sustain fast and consistent response times on its call center applications. Lexmarks 15 European call centers are linked by frame relay and leased lines. With customers on the other end of the line, acceptable response time is between 1 and 2 seconds.

Before installing the WiseWans, Lexmarks network performance was sporadic, sometimes taking as long as 20 seconds to respond, said Olivier Guiblan, global network architect at Lexmark.

"We didnt know if traffic was HTTP, ERP [enterprise resource planning], Lotus Notes or mail," Guiblan said. "It was really frustrating. Just compare the dark and the day. Before, we were completely blind."

Probe makers like NetScout maintain that only they can provide complete and thorough visibility into a network, however. The company is developing a product that will collect more detailed information on voice traffic, officials said.

"Oftentimes, extending the management functionality detracts from what the product was bought for," said Russ Currie, e-business development manager at NetScout. "Theres a visibility that a probe provides thats unmatched. To put [automatic bandwidth allocation] functionality in a probe breaks the paradigm of a probe."

NetScout asserted that large enterprises increasingly will be seeking standardized network management tools, rather than myriad products that require integration, and the company maintains that it holds an advantage in its advanced data collection capabilities.