The Christmas lights are on but nobody's home. It's not all just over-priced and over-marketed nonsense though. There are also a range of lovely networking products out this holiday season. Read on for more:

Test patches before deployment
Critical fixes and patches can't be applied to a production environment without testing, but Wise Solutions reckons that the latest version 5.5 of its Wise Package Studio can solve that. It adds that the tools enable system administrators to focus their testing work on the components that the patch changes.

It adds that Wise Package Studio integrates with its parent company Altiris's client management suite, or can prepare patches for deployment by other software distribution or patch management products. The suite covers Windows Installer (.MSI) migration, customisation, conflict management and quality assurance.

Collecting more NetFlow
NetScout has added a dedicated NetFlow collection and analysis tool to its nGenius network and application management line. It says the $15,000 nGenius Flow Collector module can support up to 1,000 NetFlow-enabled interfaces, over 100,000 flows per second and over one million simultaneous NetFlow conversations.

It claims that, combined with NetScout's other performance management software, this allows large networks to be instrumented with fewer collector appliances. NetFlow data can be recorded for forensic analysis and shared with legacy applications.

"NetFlow is a valuable data source for many applications from monitoring to capacity planning to accounting and billing, and more and more of our customers turn it on in their routers and switches. Its growing adoption justifies our increased support for it as a core component of nGenius," says Michael Szabados, NetScout's senior vice president of product operations.

Rich IP telephony to challenge PBX
Open standards IP telephony (IPT) that's as capable as a traditional PBX - that's the promise of TeleWare's intelligent eXchange (Ix) SoftSwitch. The company claims that for the first time, it can offer an IPT switch with the same rich telephony applications that it has brought to conventional TDM switches, applications such as intelligent numbering, message centres and contact centre tools.

TeleWare says that iX is based on the SIP (session initiation protocol) open standard from end to end. It says this allows telephony applications to run across a range of IPT switches - without SIP, only the lowest common denominator would be available across different vendors' equipment. It adds that it plans to augment iX in the next few weeks with a soft phone and a fully featured PC based operator console.