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Network management firm acquisitions heat up

Monitoring the health of comptuer networks seems to be the latest hot spot in the network management software market.

Monitoring the health of comptuer networks seems to be the latest hot spot in the network management software market.

Micromuse, which targets telecommunications carriers and Internet service providers, spent $42 million to buy New York-based start-up Calvin Alexander Networking today, which makes technology that allows network administrators to pinpoint the exact location of network problems and explain--through software--why they occurred.

And another similar company, Compuware, doled out about $40 million to acquire CACI International's Comnet products group, builder of software that analyzes network data and predicts potential problems on the corporate network.

Both Micromuse and Compuware executives said the purchases will improve their existing management software, a market with dozens of competitors, including Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, IBM-owned Tivoli Systems, and various start-ups. With more and more businesses relying on the Internet to connect their workers, customers, and partners, the technology helps prevent network congestion and outages.

Micromuse, whose stock has been skyrocketing recently, will build Calvin Alexander's technology into its flagship product called NetCool. In the past, NetCool would alert network administrators to the general area where a network problem has occurred. Calvin Alexander's technology will allow NetCool users to pinpoint the specific problem and explain why it occurred, Micromuse spokesman Evan Birkhead said.

"If a router goes down, NetCool will tell you there's a router down and you have to address it so that your Web hosting service doesn't crash," he said. "It will tell you what port of the router was affected, what caused the crash, and how to prevent it from happening in the future."

Calvin Alexander is an eight-person start-up whose software is still in beta testing.

Compuware executives said CACI's Comnet technology will augment its EcoScope product, which monitors the performance of applications that run on the corporate network. EcoScope collects network data, while the Comnet product can analyze the data and predict future problems, said Frank Slootman, vice president of Compuware's EcoSystems products.