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Cabletron unit to unveil network management tools

Aprisma Management Technologies is launching its first software since Cabletron Systems announced plans to spin off the network management unit.

Aprisma Management Technologies is launching its first software since Cabletron Systems announced plans to spin off the network management unit.

Aprisma next week will unveil a new version of its flagship Spectrum network management software technology that manages and monitors the health of corporate, phone company and Internet service provider (ISP) networks.

It will also demonstrate forthcoming artificial intelligence technology, similar to software from competitor Computer Associates, that can analyze data and warn network administrators of impending trouble, such as outages.

The new technologies, to be unveiled at the Networld+Interop networking industry trade show in Las Vegas next week, are the first major developments since Cabletron announced its reorganization into four separate operating companies. Aprisma, which historically has sold its Spectrum network management software to businesses, is now targeting the lucrative service provider market in anticipation of the spinoff.

The move is significant because Spectrum has long been thought of as one of the better sets of network management tools. While the Spectrum technology has been popular, Cabletron executives and some analysts believe the product languished under the Cabletron name, as the company struggled against stiff competition from Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and others in the networking market.

Cabletron's move to spin off Aprisma should give the software business a better chance to succeed, they say.

Aprisma's software competes against Hewlett-Packard, IBM subsidiary Tivoli systems and others in the management software market.

"Spectrum is a strong product, but it has been inhibited by Cabletron's lack of sales and marketing over the years," said analyst Dennis Drogseth, of Enterprise Management Associates. "How well it will do now will be determined."

Aprisma executives say they've added several features to the next version of Spectrum, including the ability to handle "virtual networks" used by Web hosting companies, which store and manage Web sites for businesses, and application service providers that rent software over the Web.

For example, a U.S.-based e-commerce Web site might have separate parts of its Internet content stored in 10 different servers in Web hosting companies throughout the world. Despite the different locations, Spectrum can view the e-commerce site as one network and pinpoint trouble spots, according to Trent Waterhouse, Aprisma's marketing director.

Spectrum 6.0, available in two months, also will feature connections to major database software, such as Microsoft's SQL Server and Oracle's 8i. This will allow businesses and service providers to build reports by examining information and seeking patterns and trends on a network, Waterhouse said.

The new software, which already manages equipment from a dozen companies, including 3Com, Cisco, Nortel and Lucent Technologies, will add support for networking gear from nine other companies, including Alcatel, Foundry Networks and Juniper Networks.

By the end of the year, Aprisma will build more artificial intelligence into the product. Aprisma's previous artificial intelligence software only viewed the network equipment. Now, it can view other applications, such as email, and determine if there are problems with software running on the network, Waterhouse said.

Separately, Aprisma today announced it has made a minority investment in Dirig Software, a start-up that builds software to manage applications.