NetScout has bundled its nGenius network performance management software with RedHat's Enterprise Linux server to simplify the job of getting it up and running.
"It's a dedicated system, optimised for this software. There's no need to configure it, or buy licences, and we monitor for patches and provide them," explained NetScout's senior product manager Leslie Miller.
The $60,000 product will still be at least double the cost of competitors in the market but the appliance approach will make it easier to buy nGenius because network managers no longer need to get purchase approval for an extra server, Miller explained. In addition, it is pre-configured to work as a secure network performance manager.
"All the things you don't need are closed down," she added. "Knowing our own software and having the tools to configure it, we know how to harden the system. It saves the customer a lot of headaches and reading, plus a Unix shop may not have Linux admin experience."
The nGenius Express Appliance takes information from probes, which sit on the network as passive devices and monitor application traffic. Target uses include application and network monitoring, capacity planning, troubleshooting and service level management.
Miller says the ability to audit network usage is key, for example in areas such as non-business use of the Internet. "A lot of customers emphasise taking off the blinkers," she says. "Having a tool in-house for everyday use gives the ability to control the performance of critical services. It's about retaining control - it's not how do you find the time, it's a necessary step."
She explains NetScout's interest in Linux by quoting figures from IDC showing that not only is it the second most popular operating system after Windows, but the market for Linux servers is set to triple in volume and double in value by 2007.
"We already have pent-up demand from our installed base, with a large number of Unix-based customers wanting an appliance," she says. At the moment they can buy the Linux software for $50,000 and install it themselves, or else they must buy the Windows version of nGenius.