HP updates Network Mode Manager

HP has extended its Network Node Manager software into performance and virtualization management

Hewlett-Packard has updated its Network Node Manager software, released Monday, to include performance management and virtualization support.

Version 9 of Network Node Manager I (NNMi) will be the first edition that allows administrators to see directly from the NNMi console how congested their networks are, and what the root causes may be for this congestion, said Jeffrey Scheaffer, who is a director of products for HP's software and solutions division.

"We're giving more information to the network operations group, so they can be smarter and more efficient about their networks," he said.

Also, for the first time, the software will provide insight into virtualized switches and the traffic generated by virtual machines.

NNMi, formerly part of HP's now deprecated OpenView brand of IT management products, provides tools for network administrator to catalogue and monitor all the routers, switches and other devices on the network. The software sends out alerts whenever one of these nodes go down and can even predict when a node might fail.

Network performance management software typically aggregates and extends this sort of monitoring into an overall report of how well the network as a whole is performing.

While network performance management software has been available for some time, even from HP itself, HP is hoping that customers will see the value in having such capabilities folded into their network fault management software.

"When you find the network is congested, the next thing you need to do is find out what is congesting the network," Scheaffer said.

The software can generate a summary of overall network traffic levels, and even categorize the traffic by application. The software can also report on how data gets routed through the network. When combined with the performance metrics of each node, these details can provide a detailed account of the trouble spots.

NNMi has traditionally used the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to query devices for utilization rates and error rates. For these new tasks, the software uses a number of additional monitoring protocols, such as sFlow and Cisco's NetFlow, as well as the Internet Protocol Service Level Agreement for providing end-to-end latency measures.

"We get a lot more detail," Scheaffer said. "The performance suite gives us a holistic view of network performance," The software can poll up to 25,000 devices.

Regarding virtualization, NNMi can discover and model virtual switches and intra-server virtual machine (VM) connectivity, placing the data in the same reports that capture the information about the rest of the network. "This allows a network operations team to ensure the availability, performance and configuration of that virtual switch," Scheaffer said. Traffic from individual VMs can also be measured.

This virtualization monitoring works with VMware's VSwitch, as well as the Cisco Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch software.

HP has a made a lot of good strides with this release, particular in usability, noted Jim Frey, an analyst at IT research firm Enterprise Management Associates. While the company has offered similar performance management tools before, the unified configuration and management interface should simplify work for harried administrators.

The virtualization capabilities are another timely addition, Frey noted. Virtual switches are increasingly becoming part of networks and so this software should offer insight into the management of these elements.

Frey also noted that this is the first version of NNMi to be dovetailed with the company's runbook automation software, called Operations Orchestration. This allows administrators to set up a set of routines, some of which can even be run automatically, to tackle troubleshooting and configuration chores.

HP has been busy on the software front: The company also just announced updates to its application testing tools.

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