Network Instruments (NI) has today launched version 13 of its popular application and network forensics analysis package, Observer.
The new features, also available on NI's dedicated GigaStor appliance, will mainly target companies needing to monitor high levels of financial transaction volumes in real time, as well as decrease the mean time to resolution for application problems on their networks.
NI chief executive Douglas Smith said that the Observer Reporting Server (ORS) had been improved after customers demanded more integrated troubleshooting functions.
One such feature is NetLive, a component of ORS showing a subset of real-time views of applications, protocols, network hardware and servers currently being monitored.
"These are browser-accessible on a 20-second refresh rate, and could also be piped into a network operations centre [NOC] big screen," said Smith.
"ORS keeps a one-hour window of the data being monitored, and NOC managers can drill down deeper into systems to check application, network or server problems."
Arc Technology, UK distributors for Observer, has also seen a change in the type of firms deploying NI Observer.
Arc managing director Stuart Reay said that the change since NI had introduced the GigaStor appliance was "a move from SMEs to larger firms, including telcos and ISPs".
"We've got a large ISP customer, a big mobile operator, and we're currently pitching at a large supermarket chain," he added.
Features specifically focused on the banking and financial sectors are Observer's ability to monitor the Financial Information Exchange and Fast Automated Screen Trading financial trading protocols, and nanosecond transaction analysis through GPS-synchronised time-stamping of network flows.
Smith also pointed to GigaStor's improved file structure, which allows faster data mining and retrospective network analysis.
"Historically we've let Windows handle data read and writes, but there was a tremendous number of file open and closes, which led to a performance bottleneck," he said.
"So we've moved to a proprietary file structure, and also upgraded the hardware to dual quad-core processors and more memory."
Smith said that NI had also changed the GigaStor's workflow to reflect large enterprise IT managers' interest in higher network layer functions, which deal with transaction and content rather than lower network layers addressing datalink and network transport layers.
"Switches and routers work pretty well nowadays and IT managers are more interested in reducing the mean time to resolution for application problems," said Smith.
"10 per cent of our customers had 10 gigabit Ethernet [GbE] network capabilities in 2007, while now we're seeing a quarter of them having such capabilities."
As larger enterprises roll out 10GbE networks, real-time capture of network flows usually means using dedicated hardware like NI's GigaStor, or the competing NetScout nGenius Infinistream appliance, technology acquired by NetScout after its takeover of Network General in 2007.
Observer 13 will be generally available on 20 October.
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