Guide to Network Management and Monitoring

Network monitoring and management market shakedown

Vendors scramble to provide suites of tools to do it all

By Denise Dubie

Consolidation is the order of the day in the network monitoring and management market. Companies are either building or buying technology to manufacture comprehensive software suites that can address more and more functions. Network fault vendors are adding performance management capabilities and protocol analysis players want to beef their network knowledge. And while vendors add network intelligence to their suites, they are also looking to integrate automated capabilities and provide one-stop shopping for customers in need of IT service management capabilities.

For instance, the big four management vendors, BMC, CA, HP and IBM -- once the keepers of the frameworks -- over the past few years have been adding capabilities to their suites to better equip their systems and applications management software to delve deep into the network.

To pump up its network knowledge, IBM acquired Micromuse a few years back. CA did the same when it acquired Concord Communications (which had just purchased Aprisma Management Technologies). BMC acquired Emprisa Networks to add network configuration management capabilities, and HP upgraded its Network Node Manager software to integrate network management knowledge with functions such as IT service and application management.

To accurately and adequately manage IT services and improve the performance of applications and ultimately the business, IT managers must also monitor all the components running on the network, connected to it, tapping its resources and using it as a means of transfer. All components on the network are equal in importance when it comes to managing business services.

"Business services involve software, servers, network and storage so if you want to control the configuration and the capacity of your business services you need to have knobs for each infrastructure area," says Jasmine Noel, principal analyst at Ptak, Noel and Associates.

Even smaller players are getting in on the consolidation action. NetScout acquired Network General to bring network management expertise into NetScout's network performance management product suite.

And network management vendor Opnet acquired Network Physics in a deal that will give Opnet the tools it needs to manage end-to-end application performance on advanced IP networks. Combining the technology, Opnet says, will enable customers to monitor application performance from the back-end systems to the user machine.

Leading vendors have also made acquisitions in the area of run-book automation, which will help IT operations staff reduce manual labor required to complete daily tasks. The big four management vendors need to augment their expansive suites with capabilities designed to automate a more dynamic and flexible infrastructure.

"The next big step for the big four network management vendors is a move into automation in the areas of active configuration management and dynamic resource allocation," says Will Cappelli, a research vice president at Gartner. "It will be a big disruptive play and a defining technology when they move into automation technologies."

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