Network vendors focus on configuration, troubleshooting

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Though the telecommunications industry continues to languish in its current slump, network manufacturers are still churning out products aimed at the enterprise level.

At the ComNet Expo trade show Wednesday, One reseller described attendance as “”terrible”” compared to

the previous seven times he has come here. The D.C. Convention Center was certainly not deserted, but all attendees and exhibitors interviewed by agreed this year’s show had fewer people than before. Show organizer IDG will not have final attendance figures available until next week, but the number of exhibitors this year is about 300, down from about 400 last year.

Those vendors who made the trip unveiled hardware and software designed to help IT staff set up, monitor, troubleshoot and analyze networks.

Agilent Technologies Inc., for example, is shipping the FrameScope 350 handheld network troubleshooting tool. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Agilent is the former testing and measurement division of Hewlett-Packard Co.

The FrameScope 350, which costs US$5,995, combines Category 6 cable certification features with network testing tools, said Charles Ganimian, product manager for Agilent’s WireScope operation. It is based on the WireScope 350, which could only certify Cat 6 cables.

The handheld tool — which is similar in size to equipment from Fluke Networks — can do pings and traceroutes and find specific devices on a network. One of Agilent’s beta testers, for example, found a Web server on its network that was installed by an engineer but not authorized by the network manager, Ganimian said.

The FrameScope 350 can generate traffic in order to stress-test network components and chart graphs of network performance over given periods of time — such as a couple of hours or a whole day, Ganimian said.

An optional add-on device is the Dual Remote 350, which is designed to attach to the other end of a cable in order to allow certification. Combined with the FrameScope 350, the package would cost about US$7,000.

The price is “competitive” when compared to similar products from competing vendors, said Robert Murphy, a salesman with Livermore, Calif.-based RenTelco, which sells and rents equipment from Agilent and other testing and measurement vendors.

Enterasys Networks, of Rochester N.H. announced the NetSight Atlas software suite, which is designed to help IT managers configure their networks.

Two of the products in the suite — Policy Manager and Access Control List (ACL) Manager — are available now.

The central piece and the other two add-ons — Inventory Manager and NetSight Access Policy Manager, are scheduled to ship in March. Pricing for each module ranges from US$3,595 for the ACL Manager to US$9,995 for the central piece.

NetSight Atlas is not designed to compete with high-end software from vendors like Tivoli or Computer Associates, said Steven Pettit, general manager of Enterasys’ software business unit. He added the suite is designed to let IT staff manage their network from a “”system level,”” meaning they would not configure specific devices. Instead, it lets administrators choose options for different users or groups of users — such as denying administrative privileges or giving priority levels to specific applications, such as SAP software or e-mail.

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