NetScout has integrated its nGenius virtual agent software into branch office equipment to enable end-to-end monitoring of traffic throughout an enterprise's network. The company has installed the NetScout software into the Cisco branch office ISR router as an alternative to network probes.

According to NetScout, organisations will now be able to monitor performance of applications across an entire network, without the requirement of a network probe, a much cheaper option for organisations with large numbers of branches. The software builds on Cisco's application extension platform (AXP) to provide complete visibility of network traffic.

Steven Shalita, the company's VP of marketing, said that it was building on the shifting status of the branch office. "The whole issue of the branch is evolving, up until recently, they've been limited in performance because of the limitations of the WAN; Cisco's concept of borderless networking is changing all that. We're no longer seeing multi-tiered performance across the enterprise, these days the user in the branches needs the exact same performance as the head office."

Shalita said that improving network performance at branches was a question facing many of NetScout's customers. "They want to know how to remove the barriers from an operation perspective" and, he pointed out, working in a cost-effective way. "To take one example, one of our customers has 700 branch offices. If the company installed a network probe in all of them, that's $25,000 for the cost of the probe, multiplied by 700 - the cost is prohibitive. By integrating the same probe software into the router hardware, we cut costs considerably."

Although the company has installed the software on Cisco routers, Shalita stressed that the technology could be used on any networking equipment. "We picked Cisco because they're by far the largest player in the market, but that's not to say that we won't integrate the software in other equipment at some point in the future," he said.
The software costs $5000 although, as it's pre-installed on Cisco routers, there's the cost of the router itself. The product is shipping now, said Shalita.