Net Optics Appliance Tackles Remote Sites With All-In One Monitoring

The idea, according to Net Optics, is to provide affordable management for those sites that don't have the monitoring capabilities of massive data centers at corporate headquarters, and also consolidate various forms of monitoring -- VoIP performance monitoring, for example -- into one appliance, instead of several different tools.

The appTap appliance is plug-and-play, according to Daniel Aharon, director of access solutions. It also includes an integrated network tap, eliminating the need for separate tap hardware.

"Unlike big data centers with big IT budgets, small offices don't have the network performance tools, and as a result, the first time an IT guy learns about problems is usually when an end user calls saying there's a problem," he said. "Say it's a doctor's clinic, for example, connected to a main data center for managing patient records. Or a retail location."

Many remote offices do have network administrators onsite, but they don't typically have the engineers who can analyze network packets and perform deeper monitoring tasks, Aharon noted. That usually necessitates bringing network engineers out to a remote site and doing advanced scans with network tap devices and software -- costing the business time, money and potentially, business continuity, to do so.

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AppTap's approach is comprehensive in its monitoring, Aharon said, and also granular; the appliance can tell, for example, not only if an instant messaging application is causing network congestion, but whether file uploads or other non-text IM functions are the source of the congestion. It can monitor multiple sites on a single pane of glass.

"Everything is integrated. We've embedded everything into a single box, and you basically plug the network cable in and get visibility right away," Aharon said.

The appTap appliances have additional ports, as well, so that if customers want to add on third-party intrusion detection systems or other technologies, they can do so easily. Customers can also add monitoring policy and monitor based on metrics, such as time-of-day spikes in traffic, or learn how frequently-used applications like, say, or another cloud-based CRM, weigh on local network resources.

Net Optics expects the market opportunity for the channel to expand as businesses rely more and more on IP communications, Aharon said, and want to troubleshoot their networks with more sophisticated monitoring techniques.

Pricing hasn't yet been confirmed, Aharon explained, but Net Optics expects appliances with network monitoring to start about $3,000, with price increases commensurate with licensed features added to the box.

Net Optics will push appTap, expected to be available in the second quarter, through channel partners. According to Aharon, VARs are finding a growing market in monitoring solutions for remote sites, especially with branch offices using bandwidth-heavy applications in greater frequency.

The target markets, he explained, are branch and satellite offices with connection speeds of 100 Mb of bandwidth or less. But network engineers that spend a lot of time on the road and need a single, on-the-go device -- as well as managed service providers who have remote monitoring needs -- should also find it appealing.

The company's new release schedule has been aggressive, especially in the past year. Last month, Net Optics released Phantom, monitoring software to provide visibility on traffic between virtual machines and in virtual servers on hypervisor stacks.