As December draws near and retailers start trying to persuade us to buy pointless goods for Xmas, we run down this week's networking stocking fillers:

High availability DHCP
DHCP is now a key potential point of failure for many organisations, said Nominum as it introduced version 2 of its high-availability Dynamic Configuration Server (DCS), which it claimed can provide over 2,400 DHCP leases per second, 59 times more than a widely used open source equivalent. DHCP, or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, is the scheme that automatically assigns IP addresses within a network.

"A weak DHCP service means people can't get online, or it takes time," said Albert Gouyet, Nominum's marketing VP. He added that as more and more devices rely on IP - for example IP phones - existing DHCP servers may find it hard to keep up and could become unreliable. A particular problem is how long it takes to reboot the server after making changes, as users may be unable to get online during this period.

"There's lots of incremental improvements in version 2, but the big thing is performance," Gouyet added. "Our server comes back up really quickly. In the context of VoIP it's not an issue of scalability, it's not having downtime." He said that pricing for DCS v2 varied according to the number of leases managed, but would start at €12,500.

Sharing network monitor feeds
The GigaVUE-MP data access switch can peel off key data feeds at critical points in the network, filtering, aggregating and multiplexing the data for transfer to analysis tools, said its developer Gigamon Systems. It claimed the device, which operates out of band, can reduce the number of tools that must be deployed and reduce contention for span ports, giving each analysis tool only the data it needs.

The switch can pass data to a range of analysis tools, such as out of band Sniffers, transaction monitors, IDS or recorders, with packets logically mapped to individual tools. It can combine streams from multiple sources to provide an overall view of parallel links in a meshed network, shape data streams by application type, or direct critical data to a specific tool via hardware filtering, Gigamon added.

Alerting for service management
BMC Software's business service management tools can deliver messages and alerts to technical staff wherever they happen to be. Invoq's AlarmPoint application now supports BMC's Impact Manager and Remedy Help Desk. BMC said that AlarmPoint goes further than its own notification service, taking alerts from the likes of BMC Performance Manager and passing them to the right people in the right format, whether that be voice, text or whatever.

The result is a customised message forwarding system that enables service management to be automated, managed and monitored beyond the data centre, BMC said. It added that it sells and supports AlarmPoint directly, via its own staff.

A suite deal for IT lifecycle software
IT lifecycle automation specialist Altiris has announced an integrated suite of applications which it said deals with issues such as security, compliance, service delivery, cost of ownership and IT change management. Imaginatively named Altiris Total Management Suite, it combines Altiris' existing software for managing services and assets, clients, security and servers.

The company claimed that the various applications work seamlessly together, and said that, at £129.70 per seat for a minimum of 200 seats, TMS is a relatively economical way to buy the Altiris software set. It added that its software can manage desktops, notebooks, thin clients, handhelds, industry-standard servers, and heterogeneous software including Windows, Linux and Unix.