NetScout to buy Psytechnics to better probe networks

The small acquisition is aimed at better troubleshooting unified communications

NetScout Systems plans to buy Psytechnics, a small developer of service management software for unified communications, for an undisclosed sum.

NetScout plans to integrate Psytechnics technology across its entire product line, improving its ability to monitor and analyze voice and video traffic across networks. Psytechnics, based in Ipswich, U.K., and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has 28 employees, including a strong engineering team, according to NetScout. Its facilities and most of its workforce will be combined with NetScout's, said Steven Shalita, NetScout's vice president of marketing.

With unified communications, enterprises increasingly are adding voice and video communications and text messaging to the tool chest for employee communications, Shalita said. This multimedia traffic presents special challenges in detecting problems that degrade the user experience. NetScout's current appliances have some capability to monitor VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol), but Psytechnics will greatly enhance those and add video capability, he said. The acquisition of the privately held Psytechnics is expected to close in the coming days.

NetScout, based in Westford, Massachusetts, sells appliances equipped with a variety of software for gauging performance and quality of service on LANs and wide-area networks. The systems work on networks comprised of any vendor's equipment and have been optimized to work with kit from companies including Cisco and Avaya, Shalita said. Management platforms such as IBM's Tivoli and Hewlett-Packard's Network Node Manager (NNMi) can use data from NetScout appliances to solve problems once they have been located.

Psytechnics sells Experience Manager software, designed to provide granular, real-time information on the quality of users' experiences with unified communications. Experience Manager works with products from multiple vendors and has an installed base of more than 1 million VoIP users in the U.S. and Europe, NetScout said in a press release.

The problems that Psytechnics has focused on are becoming more common as VoIP and video come on to enterprise networks, according to Wainhouse Research analyst Andrew Davis.

"When people start running real-time communications ... they quickly do find that the characteristics of the network may or may not meet the demands of these real-time applications," Davis said. "A lot of people just live with it, since they don't know how to solve the problem."

Some enterprises increase bandwidth, which can solve some performance problems but not others, he said. Increasingly, enterprises are starting to collect information with monitoring products in order to improve the user experience. "This is going to be an area of growing awareness," Davis said.

NetScout has been in business for about 26 years and has 840 employees. Its stock on the Nasdaq (NCTC) has risen significantly in the past year and was trading up US$0.41 at $26.51 in after-hours trading late Monday.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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