DesignXpert Tracks Network Inventories

Those problems can create setbacks for those looking to integrate new equipment or software into an enterprise operation, a common occurrence for solution providers that often find out, after the fact, about forgotten systems or services that can put the brakes on major network design changes or upgrades. Those issues can cause costs to highly escalate and delay project completion.




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Netformx aims to eliminate those problems with DesignXpert Platinum Edition, a software network discovery, design and diagramming suite. DesignXpert includes several elements that differentiate it from other network-diagramming packages. The product offers an auto search-and-discovery capability to detect a multitude of connected devices. DesignXpert has a clear cost and sales focus, which allows it to be used to quickly design a network, document the costs and drive the installation contract and sales process. That capability is a boon for solution providers looking to engineer larger networks, while demonstrating anticipated costs and efficiencies. Enterprise IT departments also can benefit from this capability in budgeting, cost justifications and ROI calculations.

One of the best ways to manage network costs is to be keenly aware of what devices and services exist on a network, which DesignXpert accomplishes quite well. Network architects can use the product's concise diagrams to explore infrastructure changes and troubleshoot or redesign elements before implementing changes. In case of network problems, the diagrams also speed the tech support process, allowing support engineers to tangibly see the physical connections between devices so they can quickly ascertain what devices have failed and what system components will be affected.

CRN Test Center engineers installed DesignXpert Platinum Edition on three notebook computers, all running Windows XP Professional. Installation is straightforward and wizard-driven, allowing users to quickly deploy the product. However, Test Center engineers encountered problems when installing the package on two of the computers. An error occurred with the software's NetEdit Module during launch, which prevented the product from being used on the first two test systems. The third installation went without a hitch and the product functioned as expected. The only major difference between the test systems is that Microsoft Office 2003 was installed on the two machines that had difficulties, while the machine that worked successfully was running Office 2000. Netformx tech support is looking into the problem.

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After installation, solution providers must download the latest product library from Netformx, which brings the most recent product information into DesignXpert. Keeping the product library current helps to ensure that all network-attached devices are properly detected during the auto-discovery phase and, more importantly, that all devices currently available on the market can be represented in proposed network diagrams.

The integrated network discovery phase is easy to master and requires only a minimum of system information, such as SNMP community strings and subnet addresses. The diagramming portion of the product takes a layered or drill-down approach, which allows users to start with a geographical view of the network, then drill down to locations, subnets and beyond.

Solution providers will find locating products in the library effortless and just as easy to add them to a diagram. Diagrams (or Projects, as defined by Netformx) can be exported to other packages for further integration into presentations or documents. Solution providers will appreciate the level of detail that can be included in a project as individual components can be noted and even smaller elements such as power cords and racks can be included. What's more, DesignXpert offers a validation feature, which allows it to examine a project to ensure all critical elements are accounted for and verify whether the design is feasible.

On the channel side, Netformx offers a range of services to help solution providers sell and support the product. Netformx offers lead generation, priority technical support, joint presales support, post-sales integration and customization services.

To keep things simple, Netformx uses a single-tier approach to support partners. Partners are chosen based on meeting product- and sales-education requirements, which can be met via Web-based training by Netformx professionals combined with online eTraining courses. Additional in-person training is available for selected partners. The company offers margins that range from 10 percent to 25 percent, based on quantities of products sold. Solution providers can choose between 8x5 or 24x7 technical support options, with the 24x7 support going generally to larger partners.


COMPANY: Netformx
Saratoga, Calif.
(408) 741-7900
DISTRIBUTORS: Comark/Insight, Federal Network Services, NetGain


Note: Vendors can earn up to five stars for technical merit and five for their channel program. If the average of these two scores is four stars or greater, the product earns CRN Test Center Recommended status.