Ready for VoIP: Network Management Architectures: OPNET
OPNET Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, is a provider of solutions for managing networks and applications, with products supporting four key areas: application performance management, network operations, capacity management, and network research and development.
OPNET solutions are currently being used in thousands of networking environments throughout the world, with implementations spanning Fortune 500 companies, civilian and defense government agencies, network equipment manufacturers, and service providers. OPNET's customer list is extensive and includes names like Abbott Laboratories, Cargill, Continental Airlines, GMAC Mortgage, Kraft Foods, Merck, Verizon, T. Rowe Price and the U.S. Department of State.
OPNET has worldwide distribution agreements with Cisco Systems and Computer Associates. The company was founded in 1986 and has 500 employees in offices around the world. The company has been profitable since 1987 and claims more than $95 million in revenue in fiscal year 2007.
OPNET's application performance management solutions are designed to ensure that applications will perform effectively in production, that adequate capacity exists to support these applications, and that the underlying networks can meet the stated service level objectives. OPNET products in this category include the ACE Analyst, analytics for networked applications; ACE Live, end-user experience monitoring and real-time network analytics; OPNET Panorama, real-time application monitoring and analytics; and the SLA Commander, for application service level monitoring.
Products that support network operations are focused on better understanding the state of the production network, proactively detecting and resolving operational issues, and increasing the productivity of the network operations staff. These solutions include the IT Sentinel, for enterprise network audit, security, and policy compliance; the SP Sentinel for service provider network audit, security and policy compliance; plus IT Netcop, and SP Netcop, which provide a unified, graphical visualization of large heterogeneous production networks, including devices, the interconnectivity, traffic and status.
Capacity management solutions are designed to accurately capture the behavior of networks, applications and servers, allowing organizations to provision the infrastructure to meet performance and availability requirements. Products in this category include the IT Guru Network Planner, which provides network capacity planning for enterprises; the IT Guru Systems Planner, for systems capacity management for enterprises; the SP Guru Network Planner, with network planning and engineering for service providers; and the SP Guru Transport Planner, for transport network planning and engineering.
Supporting Network R&D requirements include the OPNET Modeler, a simulation environment for designing protocols and technologies; OPNET Modeler Wireless Suite, which extends the functionality of the Modeler to all aspects of wireless transmissions, and the OPNET Modeler Wireless Suite for Defense, which supports the unique requirements of tactical network communication.
OPNET has several products designed specifically to help enterprises plan for a successful and smooth transition to VoIP. These include the IT Guru Network Planner, a network capacity management tool for enterprises evaluating the deployment of new technologies, including virtual private networks (VPNs), IP version 6 (IPv6) and VoIP.
The Network Planner can be used to perform a VoIP readiness assessment. This readiness assessment will predict call quality and VoIP's impact on data traffic-before deployment. It also predicts behavior under failure scenarios and enables customers to add network capacity or implement Quality of Service (QoS), if necessary to meet its Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Exclusive OPNET algorithms optimize the network, in terms of both capacity and configuration, to achieve performance and survivability requirements.
Once the VoIP infrastructure has been deployed, OPNET's ACE Live can supply real-time and historical data, in a business context, about both application performance and call quality, based on real application traffic and voice calls-with the ability to drill down to the underlying problem source (diagnostics), and understand the interaction of voice and data traffic. It can deliver real-time triage of critical voice and data application issues, insight into the interaction of voice and data, and deep drill-downs to the source of problems, whether network (enterprise, service provider, or third-party), application/voice, or server/call server-based. ACE Live supports complex network infrastructures and technologies, automatically mapping information into user-defined business groups for the presentation of results (see Figures 1 and 2).
Further details on the OPNET architecture and products can be found at www.opnet.com. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' network management architectures.
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.
Article courtesy of Enterprise VoIP Planet, © DigiNet Corporation, All Rights Reserved