A mixture of tools gives Canada Life Financial Corp. a view of its network.

“”Each has its own function,”” says Arkadi Chekhtman, network specialist with the Toronto-based insurance company.

Lucent Technologies Inc.’s VitalNet performance management software shows the status of all the network’s

components. “”It provides a nice chart for everything,”” Chekhtman says, and it’s good for post-mortem analysis when something goes wrong. “”It’s very nice for what is performance from this or that place,”” he adds.

Netview, from the Tivoli division of IBM, discovers network devices, displays topologies, monitors network performance and gathers performance data.

The company also uses CiscoWorks, a Cisco Systems Inc. product whose main function at Canada Life is to maintain an inventory of network devices, Chekhtman says.

Chekhtman recently looked at a beta version of Visualis, a network discovery tool from Houston-based BMC Software Inc. Canada Life wants a way to get a better graphical representation of its network. BMC is moving in the right direction, Chekhtman says, but his company hasn’t implemented the software yet.

Chekhtman says these tools help to some extent in spotting network problems before they start to affect end-users. For instance, he says, VitalNet picks up variables from devices on the network and shows administrators when error rates are getting too high — meaning IT staff can act before users start calling to complain. And CiscoWorks will warn of problems that could affect network performance.

Canada Life is in the process of implementing voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). To make this work, Chekhtman expects to give voice traffic priority over data. But “”that’s pretty much all we do with prioritizing,”” he says.

He sees little need to give key applications priority over those that are less important, since the network has enough bandwidth for everything. With 100 Mbps to the desktop and a Gigabit Ethernet backbone, “”I can’t imagine us having problems with bandwidth,”” Chekhtman says.

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