Network Testing Tool Aims to Ease Analysis

Jalaam's AppareNet helps reduce bandwidth-problem finger pointing.

Network trouble-shooting startup Jaalam Technologies Inc. this week will launch a lightweight, portable version of its flagship product to deliver what it hopes will be the next must-have tool for network engineers.

After months of gathering feedback from early users, the Vancouver, British Columbia, company is revamping its AppareNet software, making it faster and less expensive while maintaining its unique packet-based network testing approach.

One early user said the new AppareNet Solo could become an indispensable tool for network trouble-shooting, similar to Network Associates Inc.s Sniffer protocol analyzer.

"I believe this truly is a must-have tool for anybody that has more than six locations or anything greater than 500 nodes on their network," said Jack Campbell, vice president of technologies at Aurora Electric/DataTel Inc., in Anchorage, Alaska.

AppareNet works by sending a sequence of packets across a network to a target end station.

"The packet trains go out to a target, and theyve been modified by all the different devices they go through. Based on how they are changed, we get an idea of what the problem is," said Kelly Daniels, chief technology officer for Jaalam.

AppareNet can be used to determine when carriers and ISPs are not delivering promised bandwidth, and it can also help to eliminate the finger pointing that goes on among manufacturers, carriers, ISPs and others when network problems are difficult to pinpoint.

"We can see whats happening across the carriers network. It shows each piece of equipment your data path flows through, so it allows us to see if theres a problem on the carriers network," said Campbell, whose consulting company provides IP telephony as well as LAN and WAN consulting services.

The Windows 2000-based AppareNet can diagnose and locate specific faults, such as full- and half-duplex mismatches, media errors, out-of-sequence packets, bottlenecks, and congestion points. The tool can also be used to analyze LAN and WAN links and service provider relationships as well as to validate service-level agreements.

Jaalams initial version of AppareNet, now called AppareNet Enterprise, includes an analysis engine and database of problem signatures that determines the causes and sources of problems it identifies.

Individual sequencers that shoot out test packet sequences are located at different points across a network, and tests can be scheduled. Multiple users can access the system, and it can expand to support multiple sequencers.

The new AppareNet Solo includes the analysis engine, problem-signatures database and sequencers. It is a portable, single-user version that can be transported to any location and plugged in to a network.

The Solo version, priced at $19,995, will be available at midmonth.