Internet management packages make sense of server traffic jam

Administrators of government World Wide Web sites have their work cut out for them when
they try to explain server traffic.


If you think it's tough telling the boss how a server hit differs from a page
impression or a site visit, it's tougher to paint a clear picture of the different traffic
types overloading your servers.


How do you break down traffic by Web page viewing, other types of downloads, e-mail,
Telnet sessions or administrative protocols? Yet webmasters, content managers and
bean-counters all need to know who's visiting and what demands those visitors make.


Enterprise management packages such as Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView or Computer
Associates International Inc.'s CA-Unicenter first gave administrators a way to manage
widely distributed networks. Now it's becoming important to isolate the Internet portions
of traffic for auditing and planning purposes.


One way to see a clearer picture is to buy a network monitoring tool designed
specifically for tracking Internet services.


Ordinary log files on servers don't convey the level of detail an administrator needs,
nor can they capture data across an enterprise. What you want is a 30,000-foot view and an
ability to manage events so you can keep networks and applications performing optimally
instead of spending your time managing exceptions.


It's slowly happening. Computer Associates is beefing up the Unicenter TNG framework to
support Internet service-level management. Details appear at http://www.cai.com/products/uctr.htm.


Edge Technologies Inc. of Fairfax, Va., at http://www.edge-technologies,
has a Java client called N-Vision that accesses HP's OpenView to show device status and
alarms graphically. The administrator can drill down and check events as if at an OpenView
console.


Micromuse Inc. of San Francisco sells Netcool, a suite of service-level management
applications for telephone companies, Internet service providers and other large-scale
network installations.


The core Netcool/Omnibus application collects event messages from management tools
throughout an enterprise and associates them with services, sending reports and service
level alters.


Micromuse at http://www.micromuse.com has a set
of add-on tools for Internet and intranet traffic types: Hypertext Transfer Protocol calls
to Web servers, File Transfer Protocol downloads, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and Post
Office Protocol 3 e-mail, Network News Transport Protocol news, Domain Name System
directory services and Radius authentication. Standalone applications are $7,000 each. The
suite is $20,000.


Web management tools, particularly those using Java for cross-platform access, can
liberate the administrator from having to stay plugged in to a single console to monitor a
network. But the tools aggravate the problem of managing Web services themselves.


As more organizations roll out intranets under decentralized management, it's important
to find a way to view and manage what servers are doing. And there's one more reason to
get a handle on services.


When you can isolate what's going on, it's easier to articulate your network services
budget to your boss. You can point out why more bandwidth and servers are necessary and
what will happen if you don't get them.


Check out other service-level management tools from NextPoint Networks of Westford,
Mass., at http://www.nextpoint.com; Visual Networks
Inc. of Toronto at http://www.visual.com, Concord
Communications Inc. of Marlborough, Mass., at http://www.concord.com;
and Kaspia Systems Inc. of Beaverton, Ore., at http://www.kaspia.com.


Shawn P. McCarthy is a computer journ-alist, webmaster and Internet programmer for
Cahners Publishing Co. E-mail him at smccarthy@cahners.com.


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