BlueCat offers help with network chores

The Proteus appliance is designed to streamline and centralize many time-consuming but vital network maintenance tasks.

By John Zyskowski

Aiming to help administrators stay on top of their increasingly complex ' and mission-critical -- Internet Protocol-based networks, BlueCat Networks recently shipped to early adopters a new appliance that streamlines and centralizes many time-consuming but vital network housekeeping tasks.

BlueCat's Proteus appliance, scheduled for general release in January, helps with the provisioning of name services and management of dynamic IP allocation and IP address inventories for large networks.

The workload from these chores is growing as organizations expand their IP data networks to support new applications such as voice communications, wireless access and radio frequency identification asset tracking. Also, the move underway to the next version of the Internet protocol, IPv6, opens the door to new capabilities, such as a practically unlimited number of IP addresses, but also adds to the management work.

BlueCat currently offers a line of appliances under the Adonis name that handle basic IP management tasks, and counts the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Defense Department, Federal Aviation Administration and other government agencies as customers.

Some of the company's larger customers have deployed dozens of Adonis' because their networks are big, complex and dispersed geographically, requiring multiple management appliances, said David Berg, director of product management at BlueCat Networks. However, until now there has not been a way for an administrator to centrally manage this many separate appliances or easily apply organization-wide changes.

The company's new Web-based Proteus appliance provides that central management capability by directly monitoring and controlling up to hundreds of Adonis appliances, involving potentially millions of IP addresses.

'Proteus enables you to translate business policies about access or usage into live configuration changes across the entire network,' said Berg. 'It allows you to make network changes in minutes rather than hours or days.'

The new appliance automatically checks configuration changes prior to live deployment to avoid common domain name service (DNS) errors, and logs all changes in a central database, so that authorized administrators can modify or roll back configuration changes if needed.

For now Proteus only controls BlueCat's Adonis appliances, but Berg said the company will create integrations so that the appliance can also manage network gear like switches, routers and firewalls from other major vendors.

Proteus will be available in two models. The Proteus 3000 will support up to about 100 to 150 Adonis appliances and will list for between $30,000 and $40,000, Berg said. The Proteus 5000 can support an unlimited number of Adonis' and will list in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.

Related Links

'Infoblox delivers nonstop DNS,' [Federal Computer Week, May 30, 2005]
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