Network managers have often had difficulty trying to manage ever-expanding enterprise networks. "There has often been an element of rocket science involved in deploying features like QoS (Quality of Service) on enterprise networks," noted David Passmore, research director at The Burton Group, a Salt Lake City, Utah market research firm.
Foundry Networks, Inc., San Jose, Calif. has become the latest equipment vendor to attempt to address this problem with their introduction of IronView Network Manager. The product allows network operators to track assets, change configurations, update software, identify network problems, and resolve network failures.
The management tool controls Foundry's BigIron Layer 3 switches, FastIron wiring closet switches, ServerIron Web switches, and NetIron Internet routers via a Web browser interface from a center console. "By integrating management of all of our devices in a single product, we have made it simpler for network managers to understand what is happening on their networks," noted Val Oliva, Layer 2/Layer 3 product manager at Foundry.
In addition, the company has automated what are typically manual functions: IronView Network Manager features a discovery tool that automatically recognizes Foundry devices and their configuration. The VLAN (Virtual LAN) Manager component centralizes management of port-based and protocol-based VLANs and enables QoS and Spanning Tree Protocol attributes to be set up on groups of devices. The auto discovery feature ensures that a VLAN topology is created and maintained in real time, which helps companies quickly adapt to rapidly changing network traffic patterns.
The Configuration Manager supports software downloads across multiple Foundry products, and performs bulk configuration changes, such as setting Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) passwords on a group of devices. In addition, the auto discovery function performs periodic backups of both device configurations and the software image running within a device, so if a technician incorrectly enters configuration data, a rollback function restores the previous configuration.
IronView Network Manager generates a variety of reports that help network managers monitor resources: network report, IP address report, detailed report, VLAN report, and MAC address report. The data can be exported into applications, such as Excel spreadsheets, for further review.
The Access Control List Manager allows network operators to view, modify, and confirm access control policies deployed in each network device. With this feature, network operators can enforce policies in any part of the network: at the backbone, the distribution layer, or the wiring closet.
The Event Manager allows network operators to manage and review network faults that occur in the network. The capability acquires SNMP Trap or Syslog messages that help network operators filter and diagnose network problems.
The Device Manager enables network operators to group network devices or ports based on their function. This simplifies service provisioning by allowing network operators to push configuration that are common to a group of network devices down to them.
"Network managers spend a great deal of time dealing with mundane configuration issues and are interested in tools, like the Foundry software, that automate them," noted Seamus Crehan, an analyst with Dell'Oro Group, a Redwood City, Calif. market research firm.
Foundry's IronView Network Manager, which is expected to be available in April, costs $3,995.
Paul Korzeniowski is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Mass. and specializes in technology issues. His electronic mail address is email@example.com.