Startup Rolls Out Multivendor Config Tool

Tool automates the configuration and administration of networking devices from a who's who of networking vendors.

A new Texas startup hopes to hit a home run with its new multivendor network device configuration tool.

AlterPoint Inc. on Monday launched its DeviceAuthority tool designed to automate the configuration and administration of networking devices from a whos who of networking vendors, including Cisco Systems Inc., Nortel Networks Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co., Foundry Networks Inc., 3Com Corp., Lucent Technologies Inc, Motorola Inc., Extreme Networks Inc., Dell Computer Corp., F5 Networks Inc. and NetScreen Technologies Inc.

AlterPoint is addressing a nascent, but potentially hot market, believes Dennis Drogseth, vice president at Enterprise Management Associates Inc., in Portsmouth, N.H.

"Configuration impacts not just configuration, but a tremendous amount of performance and availability issues are configuration related, security issues are often configuration related, as is service provisioning. A far more automated, easy-to-deploy tracking system we think will eventually catch on," said Drogseth.

To date, configuration tools for the most part are brand-specific, although a couple other small vendors including Goldwire and Intelliden Inc. address multivendor network device configuration, according to Drogseth.

The Windows NT and Windows 2000-based tool is intended to automate backup, restore and version control for network device configuration. It provides change management reporting, and it tracks configuration changes. It covers a range of networking devices, including switches, routers, firewalls, load balancers, VPN concentrators and wireless access points.

It can speed problem isolation and troubleshooting by showing a visual comparison view of any two devices. It also provides a one-click restoration of reliable configurations.

"You can roll back to a previous configuration, restore the network to a previous state and then try to troubleshoot what went wrong," described Joe Corso, president of AlterPoint Inc., in Austin, Texas.

The software covers almost 90 percent of Cisco products, and the tool is easily extended to support other networking devices, Corso said. A single server can manage a few hundred devices.

The tool uses the administrative protocols used by the networking vendor to communicate with the devices. It supports Telnet, Simple Network Management Protocol, HTTP or HTTPS.

The software is downloadable from the Web now, and it can be installed in under an hour, according to company officials. It is priced at $4000 for 20 devices.