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Tools Aid Performance Management

New offerings provide improvements in managing networks and applications
During tight economic times, many businesses shift their focus from adding new servers and communications links to achieving peak performance from the IT infrastructure they have in place. Several vendors are introducing new performance-monitoring and -management tools designed to help companies get the most out of their systems and networks.

Riversoft plc, a developer of Internet network-management software, is partnering with Concord Communications Inc., which specializes in fault-discovery and performance-management systems. The vendors have developed the Riversoft/Concord Integration Module, which is designed to give customers a central way to view and manage performance, availability, and even forewarn of potential network-related problems. Available now for $10,000, the module works within the Riversoft Fault Manager console as an event-management system that aggregates all network alarms and events. The module lets the Riversoft Fault Manager present all fault events while Concord's real-time performance and capacity software helps users pinpoint affected network areas and correlate historical network trends reported to Riversoft Fault Manager.

Interxion, a European operator of carrier-neutral hosting centers, was the first Riversoft and Concord customer to use the Integration Module. Interxion earlier this year was looking for a way to poll its network with Riversoft's Fault Manager software and pass that information in real time to Concord's eHealth Suite in an effort to better analyze historical network and trend data and understand network problems as they arise, says Phil Collerton, Interxion's executive VP of operations. "When we heard they were doing this, it was very good news," he says.

The most useful aspect of the Integration Module is that Interxion can discover, in real time, which network issues are affecting specific custom-ers, Collerton says. Before installing the module, the failure of a network device used by several customers would have caused engineers to spend lots of time combing through event logs before they could understand how each customer was affected, he says. "When this happened, each network from the affected customers would send, or stop sending, information to us. We had no precise way to identify the exact cause of network problems because we were using information collected by separate applications," Collerton says. "With the Integration Module, we can now derive the root cause affecting all our customers."

Meanwhile, IT managers may be able to better manage application performance using a set of tools that Precise Software Solutions has integrated. Precise has enhanced its software to let three product lines work together and with a new common Performance Warehouse to let IT managers quickly discover the root cause of poor performance.

Precise i3 includes three sets of Precise application lines: Insight, which measures response time; Indepth, which optimizes applications; and Inform, for performance reports. The product works with a variety of applications and will let customers correlate data, for example, from an Insight for Oracle application with an Indepth for Oracle application to identify the source of database performance slowdowns and provide help for improving poorly written SQL statements, inefficient use of indexes, and develop potential fixes. Precise i3 is available now; pricing starts at $20,000.

The State University of New York, which uses a variety of Oracle applications throughout its 32 campuses, recently had a campus complaint about slow performance, says Bob Sacca, the university's manager of database servers. "Within five minutes, I saw that there were network issues. I could break down the transactions to pinpoint the problem," he says.

Sacca used Precise's software to verify that the Oracle database was working well and to discover that the school's Internet service provider was experiencing switching problems; those problems caused the performance troubles. "If I wasn't able to pinpoint the real issue quickly, that incident could have brought a lot of grief my way," he says.

Several IT managers using Precise i3 have reported significant improvements in network and application management, says Corey Ferengul, a senior program director with Meta Group. "We've seen real-world situations where this technology has created a difference, especially in the time saved troubleshooting and problem solving," he says.

Also, application testing and monitoring vendor Empirix Inc. says its application testing software, e-Test 6.0, has been enhanced with the capability of 3,000 to 5,000 virtual users per machine, up from roughly 1,000 in previous versions, to create thousands of test transactions. E-Test 6.0 supports PeopleSoft 8 and streaming media, as well as enhanced reporting capabilities, including post-test reports and a database that creates historical and trend analysis reports. E-Test 6.0, available next month, starts at $10,000.