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NETSCOUT Extends Unified Datacenter Visibility into Virtual Computing Environments

October 07, 2009

New virtualized data source for nGenius Service Assurance Solution extends Unified Service Delivery Management capabilities into private clouds.

WESTFORD, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 7, 2009-- NetScout Systems today announced the availability of the nGenius® Virtual Agent software, extending critical unified service delivery visibility into applications contained within a virtual computing environment. As a virtualized implementation of the company’s widely deployed nGenius Probe technology, the nGenius Virtual Agent seamlessly extends high-performance packet-flow monitoring and analysis capabilities deeper into the data center and private clouds — enabling the IT organization to regain true end-to-end visibility of application traffic from within virtual servers.

As IT organizations are increasingly leveraging application and server virtualization technologies to improve efficiency, reduce costs and ease the environmental impact of compute resources, they lose vital visibility into the behavior and performance of the very applications that have been virtualized. What was once a rack of dedicated servers interconnected via network switches has now been consolidated into a single virtual server hosting many different applications with a virtual switch enabling communications between the virtual machines. While tools exist for managing the virtual platform, IT organizations have remained challenged to consistently manage, optimize and troubleshoot virtualized applications relative to, and in context with, end-to-end service delivery. IT staff needs a unified view into inter-application transactions and performance as it relates to end-to-end service levels and user experience that is consistent with how traditional application deployments have been measured.

“The consolidation and virtualization of servers has a compelling economic return and has driven the broad adoption of virtualization technology,” said Peter Christy, founder and principal analyst of the Internet Research Group. “The virtualization of simple applications is remarkably straightforward, but the virtualization of the more complex, business-critical applications has been much slower because of the need to also virtualize the subsystems and tools used to monitor and assure performance. NetScout’s investment in virtualizing their probe technologies assures that the important business applications they support are as visible and manageable in a virtualized data center as they are prior to virtualization.”

Seamlessly integrated with the nGenius Service Assurance Solution, the nGenius Virtual Agent complements nGenius hardware-based instrumentation strategies by reestablishing real-time, always-on visibility into virtual computing environments. The nGenius Virtual Agent installs as a virtual appliance on a virtual machine, consuming minimal platform resources. In the case of a VMware® environment, the Virtual Agent connects to the hypervisor’s virtual switch to reveal visibility for all application transactions within or across virtual servers. The Agent software automatically discovers all applications and their interdependencies within, and external to, the virtual server providing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), intelligent anomaly detection and comprehensive performance metrics.

Extending Always-on intelligent Deep Packet Capture
Consistent with dedicated Probe technology, the Virtual Agent supports short-term packet capture capabilities that can be initiated on-demand or in response to a pre-defined trigger. For deployments that require always-on intelligent Deep Packet Capture (iDPC) capabilities from within the virtual environment, the nGenius Virtual Agent can also be deployed in a continuous “TAP mode” that enables the mirroring of all virtual server traffic to an external nGenius InfiniStream appliance. This enables invaluable back-in-time forensic analysis of application and inter/intra virtual machine traffic providing even more granular historical insight into application behavior from within the virtual server. The dual mode operation of the Virtual Agent provides unmatched deployment versatility while enabling the IT organization to regain valuable forensics analysis capabilities that can only be performed with actual application packets.

“As we have deployed virtualization technology, we have struggled to maintain our insight into the interactions of applications and their impact on our users’ experiences,” said Steve Carson, data network system lead, Valero Corporate Services Company. “Prior to implementing server virtualization, an nGenius InfiniStream® appliance in the datacenter helped us understand what was happening with our applications. Once we virtualized the applications, we lost the granularity we once had, greatly hindering our ability to proactively manage and pinpoint the cause of application performance issues. With the nGenius Virtual Agent we have reestablished the end-to-end view we once had to now include the virtualized application transactions. This has really simplified our application management capabilities and allowed us to maintain the stringent service levels demanded by our users.”

With rich application performance metadata from virtual servers, the nGenius Service Assurance Solution analyzes and reports on virtualized application transactions in the identical manner and context as for non-virtualized server transactions. This provides the IT organization with granular understanding of how application interdependencies may impact overall application performance and the downstream effect on user experience. In addition, IT staff benefits from a unified view of the virtual application traffic over the end-to-end service delivery environment that also includes voice, video, telepresence, and other non-virtualized applications. This dramatically simplifies the management of complex virtual application deployments and enables the IT organization to more efficiently optimize service delivery, predict and prevent performance issues and speed problem resolution in context with the overall service delivery environment. Cross-organization collaboration is also enhanced since the nGenius Service Assurance Solution provides unified visibility that can be leveraged across the IT organization including the network, application, server and data center teams to achieve operational consistency.

Addressing Dynamic Resource Movement
Adding to the performance management challenges associated with virtualization is the advent of dynamic application movement across virtual environments. In a virtualized deployment, applications can move from one virtual server to another, increasing the network management team’s challenge of anticipating and managing network traffic. Since virtual servers can be located in different parts of the data center or around the world, an application’s movement can cause significant and unexpected impact to network operations — resulting in performance degradations and undesired user impact. While the application or server team may know about the application’s movement, the network staff can be caught by surprise from moving application-bound traffic. With the Virtual Agent deployed, the nGenius Service Assurance Solution will identify application movement between servers from a network perspective. The Virtual Agent automatically discovers new or moved applications within a virtual server enabling network staff to instantaneously know which applications have moved, enabling them to predict and address sudden changes in network traffic patterns. This knowledge will also help IT staff to correlate and better understand the performance of virtualized services across multiple servers and network elements, validate the implementation of moved services and aid in the optimization of application use of compute and network resources.

“As enterprises continue to drive datacenter and server consolidation initiatives and increasingly leverage virtualization technologies, all the challenges associated with optimizing, protecting and troubleshooting applications apply to virtualized networks, but with exponentially more complexity and urgency,” said Steven Shalita, vice president of marketing, NetScout Systems. “A service assurance platform is only as good as its data sources. NetScout continues to drive technology innovation and make significant investments in our intelligent data sources to enable more visibility in more places. By addressing the challenges at the heart of the data center we are enhancing and simplifying the IT organizations’ ability to find and resolve complex services delivery problems when and where they occur. This enables an already over tasked IT staff to meet demanding service-level expectations by optimizing delivery, protecting against service degradations, and simplifying operations for complex service delivery environments.”

Availability
The initial implementation of the nGenius Virtual Agent software is available now for VMware ESX and VMware ESXi environments and can be seamlessly inserted into existing nGenius managed environments. The iDPC TAP functionality will be supported in Q4 2009 through a minor software update available at no cost. NetScout distributes the Virtual Agent Software freely, but its deployment consumes a license port within the nGenius Performance Manager platform resulting in an effective cost of $1,000 per deployed agent. Please contact NetScout or your NetScout authorized reseller for more information.

About NetScout Systems

NetScout Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTCT) is the market leader in Unified Service Delivery Management enabling comprehensive end-to-end network and application assurance. For 25 years, NetScout has delivered breakthrough packet-flow technology that provides trusted and comprehensive real-time network and application performance intelligence enabling unified assurance of the network, applications and users. These solutions enable IT staff to predict, preempt and resolve network and service delivery problems while facilitating the optimization and capacity planning of the network infrastructure. NetScout nGenius® and Sniffer® solutions are deployed at more than 20,000 of the world’s largest enterprises, government agencies, and service providers, on over 740,000 network segments to assure the network, applications, and service delivery to their users and customers. More information about NetScout Systems is available at http://www.netscout.com.

NetScout, the NetScout Logo, nGenius, InfiniStream and Sniffer are registered trademarks of NetScout Systems, Inc. VMware is a registered trademark of VMware, Inc.

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Source: NetScout Systems, Inc.

NetScout Systems, Inc.
Christine Johansen, 978-614-4113
Manager, Analyst and Public Relations
johansenc@netscout.com
or
Davies Murphy Group, Inc.
Rob Morton, 781-418-2460
netscout@daviesmurphy.com

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