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Visual Networks links traffic to applications

A network management vendor's new monitoring suite helps managers determine which applications are causing problems and whether users are ignoring usage policies.

Visual Networks Inc. on Monday announced an update to its application traffic management suite to help network managers quickly identify which enterprise applications are causing network bottlenecks.

The Rockville, Md.-based vendor is augmenting its Visual UpTime Select suite with two new modules, Select AppSummary and Select AppFlows, to identify underperforming and unauthorized applications.

AppSummary offers administrators a tool to break down network usage by application. Steve Hindman, Visual's executive vice president for product management and marketing, said

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it can display how much data an application sends over the network in a given period, which users were responsible for generating it and where data is getting bogged down.

For instance, if users complain about slow response times using an application from PeopleSoft or Oracle, the module can determine if a specific user is causing the problem and whether it's happening when users are connecting to the server or waiting for a response.

The AppFlows module comes into play when the network is sluggish, but no authorized applications are to blame. AppFlows can sort network usage data by local hosts, allowing an admin to pinpoint which users are hogging the bandwidth and whether they're using unauthorized applications to download streaming media or share files.

"If somebody comes on the network and starts doing something they shouldn't," Hindman said, the module "can see where they went using the IP address."

Hindman said that unlike other application traffic management tools, Visual UpTime Select doesn't offer information based on network layers or device types. Therefore, admins are able to drill down into the root cause of performance problems.

Stephen Elliott, senior analyst with Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp., said Visual is making a significant strategic shift in an effort to claim more of the application data management market from vendors such as Packeteer Inc., Cupertino, Calif., and Expand Networks Inc., Roseland, N.J.

He added that it's a good time to make such a move, since not only are some vendors able to increase revenue by as much as 30% annually, but because customers want more information about network applications.

"From a networking standpoint, operations-centric folks are requiring more information about applications and their security levels," Elliott said. "And the next step is using that info to be more proactive and realizing where problems may pop up down the road."

Visual's updates will be incorporated with UpTime Select version 1.1, which will be available next month.

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