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Singlestep rolls out network consolidation tool

A new tool from Singlestep Technologies aims to give administrators a single view of their networks by consolidating a company's network monitoring and management tools.

A new network management consolidation tool that hit the market recently offers new features that will greatly help network operations centers get a handle on their networks, many say.

The tool from Singlestep Technologies, a Seattle-based network management company, consolidates many of a company's existing network monitoring and management tools. The Unity product gathers these systems under one viewing screen with drag-and-drop menus that enable network managers to get an overview of their networks, said Ophir Ronen, chief technology officer at Singlestep.

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The product's biggest benefit is that it allows network managers to relate information from different systems to each other quickly and simply, said Michael Disabato, a senior analyst with the Burton Group, a Midvale, Utah, research firm. Disabato said that the simple interface allows users to tailor the system to their needs without requiring them to write elaborate code.

Disabato said that these features put Unity ahead of similar products like Unicenter from Computer Associates International Inc., which can take a long time to deploy and customize. Unity can be up and running within a day, he said.

The product's ability to draw together previously disparate management systems is why Seattle-based DSL provider Speakeasy Inc. evaluated the product. Danny Pickford, director of engineering for Speakeasy, said that right now if there is a problem, he has four or five different systems that his employees can look at. They need to work through systems one by one to find the problem, often by process of elimination.

"Looking at all those different pieces to really understand what is going on can take a bit of time even with dedicated people that know what they are doing," he said.

With the Unity system, which he has evaluated and will install next week, he said that his people should be able to quickly gain an understanding of problems in the network from many management and troubleshooting tools. That can save a vast amount of time, he said. And that is very important for an ISP like Speakeasy, which has other businesses that rely on it for their livelihoods.

Tom Bevington, a senior technology analyst with the Capital Group, a Brea, Calif.-based holding firm that specializes in mutual funds, is also impressed with the product. He evaluates technology for the 5,000-employee company and is recommending that the Capital Group consider deploying Unity. The product will give the company a much better understanding of its network, allowing people who now have an up-close view of a single process or tool to be able to see the larger picture as well. He said that if Capital does deploy Unity, the company will start small, as it does with most new products.

As a small company operating in a tight economy, Singlestep faces some challenges. Though the company has been around for some time, this product represents a relatively recent shift in focus. Disabato said that Singelstep needs to land a few big accounts to help it gain a name for itself.

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