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A better view of LAN awareness

Visual Networks moves into the LAN market with its new suite of Ethernet appliances. With Visual's experience in sophisticated IT management issues and technologies, analysts say it has more than a chance to compete.

Visual Networks Inc. is now adjusting its focus to provide LAN visibility.

The Rockville, Md.-based vendor today announced a new addition to its Visual UpTime Select portfolio: the Ethernet ASE appliance suite. The ASE, or application service element, is a Visual Networks appliance that collects data about protocols associated with networked applications, such as e-mail or VoIP.

The new suite is essentially a family of three Ethernet devices optimized for different applications. The Model 120 is targeted at business-level DSL/cable users, the Model 122 for business-level T1 users and the Model 220 for Ethernet WAN transport and other high-speed access.

The Ethernet devices are Visual's first entry into the LAN market and are components of its flagship portfolio of network management products, which offers real-time and backlogged information for network and application visibility, monitoring traffic before it is typically encrypted or compressed.

Steve Hindman, Visual's executive vice president of business development, said it has traditionally offered network and application performance management capabilities for WAN-based applications, but the new suite extends those visibility capabilities to the WAN- and LAN-based applications.

Due largely to its past successes in tackling other sophisticated IT management issues and technologies, Visual Networks will compete well in the LAN management market, according to Jeffrey Nudler, a senior analyst with Boulder, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).

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EMA vice president Dennis Drogseth agreed: "Visual is one of the forerunners and creators of the [service level management] market with its initial offerings focused on committed information rate in frame relay. Then it successfully diversified in monitoring a wide range of network transport types, and established a strong customer base among service providers."

Hindman said this move to the LAN market is a direct response to customer demand.

"More and more users are at remote sites and on meshed networks. Having a device at the head end just isn't sufficient any more," Hindman said. "Customers are now responsible for everything from the server to the desktop, so now we're allowing them to get a better picture [of their networks] and do real troubleshooting."

Hindman said an increasing number of enterprise remote sites are using encryption and compression in conjunction with broadband access to provide more secure communications. But, Hindman said, this reduces the IT manager's application performance visibility over the WAN.

Visual said it anticipates general availability of the Ethernet appliances in April. Pricing information has yet to be determined.

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