NetScout Systems Inc. is to announce two product upgrades designed to unify real-time and historical reporting of network and application performance data on large corporate networks.

At the heart of the announcement are new Common Data Model (CDM) Adaptors, a set of software designed to help users gather basic performance data from a range of switches and routers, said Leslie Miller, product marketing manager at Westford, Mass.-based NetScout.

The CDM Adaptors can be used with network devices supporting various performance management protocols, including the Management Information Base (MIB) II and mini-Remote Monitoring (mini-Rmon) standards, according to NetScout officials.

The new technology will be offered within NetScout's nGenius Performance Manager 2.0 software and nGenius Probe 6.0 firmware technology, a rack-mounted device that gathers and analyzes traffic flow records from network nodes. The two product upgrades are due to become available by the end of this month, NetScout said.

Keith Axtell, a performance analyst at Consumers Energy in Jackson, Mich., has been testing the Performance Manager 2.0 software for the past month, having installed an earlier version a year ago.

One improvement that Axtell has noticed is an improved ability to simultaneously run multiple windows containing network performance data on his PC. "You did a lot of window management in the earlier release," he said.

Consumers Energy, an electric and natural gas utility with about 6 million customers, has to monitor 6,500 nodes in a network that spans 100 sites in Michigan. NetScout's technology has given IT staffers better tools for monitoring connectivity to all those devices, Axtell said, adding that the improvements have become especially critical as the utility moves from mainframe systems management to management of distributed systems.

Performance Manager 2.0 has been in production use for the past month in a small segment of the network at the Uncasville, Conn.-based Mohegan Sun casino, which supports a total of 7,500 nodes, 8,000 phone lines and 6,200 slot machines that are serially connected to the network.

The new version will be especially useful because the CDM Adaptors can bring in information from other data sources besides Rmon, said Kevin Carey, the casino's network administrator. "The big thing we want to look at is MIB II data from all interfaces and data ports," he said.

Mohegan Sun has used NetScout's products since 2000. Jake Star, vice president of computer services at the casino, said the technology has helped business executives realize that systems problems might not be the fault of the company's network, which is usually blamed before servers and applications. "It's neat to actually have proof it's not the network," Star said.

Michael Howard, an analyst at Infonetics Research Inc. in San Jose, said that NetScout is the first vendor to come out with unified technology for network and application monitoring. "There's been a clutter of tools so far," Howard said. He predicted that NetScout's offering will quickly be emulated by rival vendors like Concord Communications Inc. and Network Associates Inc.'s Sniffer Technologies unit.