Tool Targets Troublesome Traffic

Apparent Networks Inc. is set to introduce a more application-centric version of its AppareNet network trouble-shooting tool.

Apparent Networks Inc. is set to introduce a more application-centric version of its AppareNet network trouble-shooting tool to give application managers an end-to-end view of traffic paths.

Originally designed for network engineers, the tool received a surprisingly hearty reception from application managers and help desk operators who use the tool for hard-to-trouble-shoot performance problems, according to Apparent President and CEO Glenn Wong, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"We dont monitor the application per se, but we can analyze the network and confirm [whether] the network is the problem," Wong said.

AppareNet Help Desk uses the same diagnosis of network problems as that used for network engineers but applies a simpler user interface. The tool identifies known network problems by transmitting a sequence of packets to a target end station. As the sequences traverse the path, they are altered in certain ways by network problems, such as poor-performing network interface cards, rate-limiting queues, mixing TCP and legacy protocols, or latency caused by satellite links. The alteration is essentially the signature of a specific kind of problem, which the tools diagnostics can identify.

"If it does run into congestion or packet reordering, it tells you not only where the problem is but what the problem is," said a user who asked not to be named.

Besides customizable UIs, the tool adds the ability to diagnose problems outside the customers own network. Designed for service providers or enterprises working with partners, it allows users to check the path outside their network to see the analysis to determine where the problem is, said Wong.

By giving network operations and the help desk detailed information, the tool can foster greater collaboration among the groups to more quickly resolve performance problems, said Dennis Drogseth, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates Inc., in Portsmouth, N.H.

At the same time Apparent Networks created the Help Desk version, it also beefed up its core Proactive product for network engineers to allow them to set up, schedule and run a series of tests and then report the results. The intent is to allow network operators to use the tool more proactively.

AppareNet Help Desk and AppareNet Proactive are due in December. Pricing has not yet been set.