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.

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