The Maturing of Performance Management Tools

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With businesses looking to get more out their networks and eager to purchase the tools to help them do it, there’s been a significant shift in players in the network performance space. Some serious consolidation has taken place; over the past 18 months, more than a half dozen vendors of network performance tools have been purchased by other players.

Ultimately, companies are looking for network performance tools that can provide information on how well the network is delivering services to the business, says Gerald Murphy, analyst at the Meta Group, Stamford, Conn.

Although network managers can purchase tools that monitor the network or monitor the applications running across the network, vendors have yet to deliver a single solution that does both. Hence, vendor consolidation.

Lucent + INS = VitalSuite

In October 1999, Lucent Technologies Inc., in Murray Hill, N.J. joined forces with International Network Services (INS). The merger of the two organizations has produced Lucent’s VitalSuite software solutions for network management and optimization. According to the company, VitalSuite Enterprise is a comprehensive family of solutions that let network managers monitor and manage the performance of an entire enterprise–i.e., network, applications and the business processes they support–as a single system.

Lucent has done a lot of integration work in VitalSuite and has about an 18-month jumpstart on other vendors looking to provide similar functionality, says Murphy.

Concord + FirstSense

Earlier this year, Concord Communications Inc., Marlboro, MA, a provider of performance management solutions (most notably eHealth), merged with FirstSense, a provider of application and service response management solutions. Concord had previously purchased Empire Technologies, a vendor that made system management products.

The Shifting Industry

Vendor consolidation in the network performance space is a response to a shift in the industry–namely, enterprises are looking for tools that can help them evaluate how effective the network infrastructure is to the business.

The drive to develop consolidated tool sets also reflects the waves of maturity taking place in this product space. Earlier network management tools looked for things that were broken; later tools were developed to help network managers know how well the network was performing. The next step is to be able to understand how well all of the pieces are working together to deliver business value, says Murphy.

NetIQ, NetScout

In May, NetIQ Corp., Santa Clara, Calif., and Mission Critical Software Inc. merged, retaining the NetIQ name. According to the company, the merging of the two vendors solutions allows NetIQ to offer a comprehensive infrastructure management solution. Prior to being acquired by NetIQ, Mission Critical had purchased Ganymede, a vendor of network performance management tools.

Today, NetIQ offers three non-integrated product sets: administration and directory management, operations management, and network performance management.

NetScout Systems, Inc., Westford, Mass., is another vendor in the acquisition mode looking to provide enterprises a comprehensive network performance tool set. This past July, NetScout, a provider of real-time network and application performance management tools, acquired NextPoint Networks, a provider of performance and service level management solutions.

A couple of months later, NetScout introduced three new nGenius products for network management.

These are just several examples of the consolidation taking place in the network management/performance space, but the important news for network managers is the expected outcome of these mergers. Expect to see new product introductions that feature integrated network performance tools, sometime over the next 12 months, says Murphy. //

Lynn Haber writes on business and information technology from Norwell, Ma.

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