Hewlett Packard has brought out a new version of the free software that comes with all its switches. ProCurve Manager now includes sophisticated statistical monitoring and improved directory management. It also brings back a link with HP's flagship OpenView management product.

ProCurve Manager now supports sFlow, an HP-backed stats and analysis standard. Putting it in a free product that manages edge switches will boost the standards effort, which goes beyond current RMON monitoring standards, to use sampling techniques to monitor and analyse network traffic, said Jon Weatherall, HP ProCurve UK manager. "Version 1.6 of ProCurve Manager can interpret sFlow agents," said Weatherall. "Previously, you needed dedicated stations."

It also includes identity driven management (IDM), which links it better with Active Directory-based policy management systems. The two combined could allow network managers to shut down ports using IDM, when sFlow detects a dangerous surge of traffic, said Weatherall: "sFlow and IDM are not joined up now, but they will be."

ProCurve Manager's close tie-in with OpenView - something it lost when it changed its name from TopTools - will mean people can manage switches with the basic free version, or upgrade to ProCurve plus for more features. There is the option to integrate ProCurve Plus to OpenView for full enterprise management. "You get consistency and commonality, and can schedule tasks in OpenView," Weatherall said, citing such activities as upgrading switch firmware automatically as a batch task.

HP is also upgrading the firmware of its stackable switches, to support Web/MAC authentication, so users can be given guest access to wireless networks, without having an 802.1x supplicant on their laptop.