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Networks diagnosed through Net

A slew of management tools from the likes of Cisco and Intel show the promise of administration software based on Net standards.

    Separating hype from reality on the Web can be tough, but an upcoming slew of management tools from the likes of Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Intel (INTC) show the promise of administration software based on Internet standards.

    Using a Web browser, these new tools will allow administrators to point to a particular switch, router, or hub and diagnose a variety of problems with a simple point-and-click approach.

    Cisco, for example, will soon debut a series of applications based on a Java and Web-based management approach that covers the company's line of routers and switches, as well as any device that supports SNMP (simple network management protocol).

    The work, code-named Project X, will debut next month on the Sun Microsystems Solaris platform, Cisco officials confirmed. Versions based on Microsoft Windows NT will roll out in the fall, they said.

    Rather than provide a Web-based front end for existing products, such as CiscoWorks network management applications for routers and switches, the company decided to start from scratch and build Web tools based on a platform called the Cisco Resource Manager, according to Bill Ahlstrom, director of marketing for Cisco's network management business unit.

    These tools will adopt the Web-based Enterprise Management standard, which was a hot topic of conversation one year ago, but is only now appearing in products.

    The applications--Inventory Manager, Software Image Manager, Availability Manager, and System Log Analyzer--will survey devices, provide software updates to those boxes, and check on network availability.

    Intel also has released a new tool called Device View for Web, now available to download on its Web site for existing customers, that can discover and collect information from the company's hubs and switches. It can also ascertain which PC users are connected to a given device.

    And 3Com (COMS) will also ship a series of agents next month for its low-end products to take the mystery out of administration for small offices. Bay Networks (BAY) has also revealed that Web servers will soon be installed on its networking gear to interoperate with the company's Optivity network management software.

    According to a recent Forrester Research report, Internet-based computing will alter how administrators view their network by removing monolithic, fat-client management platforms and adapting them for use from within a Web browser.