Cisco, IBM Team Up to Help Manage Telco Networks

The companies, usually competitors in the network management field, are extending a partnership that will combine IBM Tivoli network monitoring technology with Cisco network device modeling tools.

Two unlikely partners are teaming up to help network service providers get a handle on managing their planned next-generation networks with the launch of new integrated tools.

IBM and Cisco Systems on June 14 will introduce an extension to their network management partnership that will combine IBM Tivoli network fault monitoring, problem isolation and service-level event management with Ciscos network device modeling and simulation tool.

With its 2006 Micromuse acquisition, IBM gained market leadership in providing monitoring and event management for telcos and network service providers. Cisco, through its acquisition of Sheer Networks in 2005, acquired a dynamic network abstraction framework designed to mask the underlying network complexity from developers creating a range of different management programs.

/zimages/2/28571.gifTo read more about IBMs Micromuse acquisition, click here.

The Cisco Active Network Abstraction technology builds an active model of the telcos network environment that allows operators to simulate device characteristics. The new joint offering, dubbed the Cisco Assurance Management Solution, will include IBM Tivoli Netcool/Omnibus and Netcool/Precision technology with the ANA framework.

"ANA lets you create a virtual network abstraction or mediation layer that allows IBM to take advantage of some of the data available through the Cisco partnership to look at how services are performing and the impact on the customer," said Patrick Kelley, an analyst and co-founder of the OSS Observer.

Cisco had a previous partnership with Micromuse prior to the IBM acquisition and is one of IBMs largest channel partners for the Netcool Omnibus event management software. The Cisco Info Center, used by some 500 large Cisco customers, is the Cisco branded version of Netcool Omnibus. The integration of Netcool Precision "adds more fault management capabilities, and a database that captures visualization and topology information about the network," said Alan Ganek, chief technology officer at IBM Tivoli Software, in Somers, N.Y.

IBM and Cisco officials said the companies intend to further extend the integration of ANA to additional Tivoli management software in subsequent releases. The two will target IBMs Netcool Impact and Tivoli Business Service Manager in the next releases. "Well be able to feed network events into the BSM dashboard, monitor business services and do fault isolation down to network elements combined with storage, servers and so on," added Ganek.

The extension of their partnership is another example of IBMs "much more aggressive stance in selling commercial solutions to telecom providers," said Kelly. With the Micromuse acquisition, along with the later acquisition of Valent, IBM is in a "leadership position" for commercial management software aimed at the telecom market, he added.

The new offering is due next month from both Cisco and IBM.

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