HP says that administrators using its OpenView Network Node Manager will be able to locate network breakages faster than ever before, thanks to technology from Californian start-up Packet Design.

"We are licensing technology that behaves like a router - routers publish their forwarding decisions to each other, so it collects and audits those," says Scott Fulton, director of HP's network management business.

"Then, when it receives information that adjacency has been lost and traffic is re-routing, it starts to interrogate the equipment between those two points to find the fault."

Fulton adds that this is a much faster method than waiting for OpenView to do a full poll of all the network devices: "If you only have one layer of redundancy, or if your backup route is more expensive, then even saving 15 minutes is important. It also lets you prioritise problems and do impact analysis.

"It is emerging technology, and this agreement allows us to test the waters with customers," he says. "The alternative today is to diagnose layer 3 failures by telnetting into each router in turn."

HP plans to offer the Route Explorer software next spring, running on one of its Proliant servers. Fulton says that other companies offer similar technology, such as Ipsum Networks, but that HP has been working with Packet Design for nine months. "I expect the other network management vendors to respond, but it's all about time to market," he adds.