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Comnet: More Control For Networks

WorldCom and Cisco unveil a network-management tool and more switch features, respectively.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--In launches billed as giving customers more control over data networks, WorldCom on Tuesday introduced a free reporting tool for its virtual-private-network services, and Cisco Systems added more control features to its popular modular switch, the Catalyst 4000.

The VPN Interactive Performance Reporting tool is available now to all of WorldCom's site-to-site VPN customers without charge, says Audrey Wells, the company's manager of dedicated IP VPN services. The tool, launched here during the Comnet trade show, gives customers access to a secure Web page through WorldCom's portal. Customers can view daily, weekly, monthly, and annual reports on their networks covering metrics like VPN "tunnel" availability, tunnel latency, packet loss and tunnel usage, as well as summaries on specific tunnels or an entire network. The tool works in conjunction with WorldCom's service-level agreements for its IP VPN services by letting customers check actual performance of their networks, according to Wells.

Rob Carlson, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc., says, "It's a good supplement to the service and adds meat to their SLAs," Carlson says.

Separately, Cisco at Comnet introduced its Supervisor Engine III control module for its Catalyst 4000 modular switch. The module lets customers deploy advanced services on their networks without degrading the Catalyst 4000's performance. With the module, "you will be able to achieve 48 million packet-per-second performance, no matter which service you turn on," says Steven Shalita, senior manager of worldwide product marketing for gigabit systems at Cisco.

Services that the Supervisor Engine III enable include quality of service and traffic-management capabilities; security through access lists, user authentication, and client security; and finely detailed network-management capabilities, according to Cisco. The module is available now; priced at $15,000 for a basic system and $20,000 with redundant power supplies.

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