NetScout extends SAN performance management

By Lisa Coleman

Westford, MA-based NetScout Systems is leveraging its established LAN and WAN products to provide a storage area network (SAN) performance monitoring and analysis solution that has not previously been available, according to analysts.

Last December, NetScout released nGenius Performance Manager 1.4 software, and it is now adding more-detailed views and reports of SAN activity.

The product provides in-depth performance analysis that allows IT administrators to see, for example, the top "talkers" in a network, which devices are contributing to it, and what type of traffic it is.

"You really don't have any way to view that right now with any of the other tools on the market," says Nancy Marrone, a senior analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group.

To monitor the SAN, NetScout uses probes in tandem with its nGenius Performance Manager software. The probes passively tap the Fibre Channel network and not the storage devices. Typically, the probe sits between a switch and storage devices, but it can also be placed on the application server side.

The hardware-software combo collects and displays detailed information on storage traffic between servers, disk arrays, and LUNs.

The data collected includes traffic statistics such as frame busy and rejects, port busy and rejects, zero credit events, and initialization. Fibre Channel traffic views detail Fibre Channel protocol (FCP), extended link services (ELS), and basic link services activity. SCSI initiator-to-target conversations for exchanges such as SCSI reads/writes in FCP or login traffic for ELS are included in upper-layer protocol session activity views.

This level of detail into SAN performance provides a way to quickly troubleshoot the network, according to Eileen Haggerty, senior product marketing manager at NetScout. "This enhances network planning, application-level troubleshooting, and ongoing resource management," she says.

However, one potential drawback is the $19,995 starting price for an nGenius Fibre Channel 9800 Probe. "It's a tad [expensive], but there is nothing else that gives you this kind of information," explains Marrone.

NetScout is entrenched in the Ethernet LAN space and has been providing LAN and WAN performance monitoring tools since 1986.

This article was originally published on May 28, 2003