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Fidelia leaps ahead with WLAN monitoring

Fidelia has jumped ahead of HP and the rest of the network monitoring pack by extending its NetVigil product to monitor wireless LANs, as well as hard-wired networks. The product allows WLANs to be monitored on their own and as part of a larger network. Plus, a university says NetVigil is easy to use.

Fidelia Technology Inc. recently announced an extension to its NetVigil network monitoring software that allows companies to monitor their wireless networks in addition to their hard-wired LANs.

Users of the Princeton, N.J., network monitoring vendor's software can now monitor the number of users on a given access point, as well as the transmission bandwidth, traffic rates and signal strength, among other metrics, said Vikas Aggarwal, founder and chief technology officer of Fidelia.

This new feature puts Fidelia ahead of other companies in the network monitoring market, most of which have yet to add wireless monitoring to their products, said Corey Ferengul, a vice president at the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Meta Group.

In time, vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. -- which offers the well-known monitoring product OpenView -- and other market leaders are likely to offer similar functionality, he said. Fidelia needs to use its lead to build up market share, he added.

NetVigil has a feature that allows IT managers to group technologies and applications into units that the company calls business containers. Using this feature, the entire wireless LAN can be grouped in one container and monitored as its own portion of the larger network. If desired, the wireless LAN can be broken up into groups as well.

Northwestern University was drawn to the product in part because of its ease of use, said Dave Carr, director of IT, telecommunication and network services for the Evanston, Ill.-based university. He said that he considered products like OpenView, but they were not feasible because of their complexity.

"Products like OpenView are giant, bloated applications that take constant hand holding to keep all the pieces together," he said. He would have had to dedicate a staff person to monitoring OpenView, which, he said, made the total cost of ownership prohibitive.

NetVigil, Carr said, is simple enough that a broad range of people in the organization can use it, and it does not require dedicated staffing. Its up-front cost is less, as is its total cost, he said.

Carr is using NetVigil to monitor both his wired LAN and his Wi-Fi network. He placed the 170-node wireless network into a business container and monitors it separately from the LAN.

He also uses the system to determine patterns of usage. If he finds that there is high-bandwidth utilization in one area, he knows that he may need to add access points there. Carr can also monitor how much bandwidth the access point is receiving and transmitting, in order to determine whether there is any trouble with the node.

The average NetVigil licensing fee is $80,000.


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