A quarter of all European IT directors have little idea as to how their corporate networks are being used.

That's according to a survey of application performance carried out by Coleman Parkes Research. It also revealed that the top 2,000 European businesses waste three million working hours a year getting to grips with the problem.

Andy Green, CEO of BT global services, said that he thought the problem was even worse. "I wonder if 75 percent of my colleagues really know what's being run on their networks," he mused. Green was speaking at the launch of a new BT service, Applications Assured Infrastructure, that the company claimed would offer customers a complete management and guaranteed applications delivery service.

It sounds like a pipedream but BT is claiming that the service would enable organisations to understand and master all the complexities that occur within a corporate infrastructure, from the datacentre to the desktop. The service, which will be launched in the autumn, will be introduced in five modules: audit, optimise, monitor, manage, and assure. Each module could be introduced separately, said Green.

The company will work with a variety of partners to deliver the service. Sally Davis, the president for BT global products and customer service, said that service would use network managements products from the likes of Concord, Compuware and Infovista. "We will use whatever software is appropriate; it will depend on the application."

She said that the service BT would be offering would be unmatched by another carrier. "Lots of organisations have spent money in the last few year buying licences for software such as Oracle, PeopleSoft and Siebel, what we'll be able to do is guarantee the delivery of those applications on to the desktop."

Davis said that the new service will be a particularly powerful tool for those organisations that are using voice and multimedia applications over IP.

Organisations should be warned that this won't be cheap: Davis said that the basic service would cost between £20,000 and £100,000 to set up, with running costs of £20,000 to £30,000 on top of that. The costs for businesses opting for the assured services module would be depend on the size and complexity of the network, the type of applications being run, and the levels of service that would be required. However, Davis said that it would be in hundreds of thousands of pounds - rather than millions.