A network traffic control tower

By Barry Nance, Network World |  Networking

RInstalling firewalls, traffic prioritization tools and bandwidth governors typically involves buying separate products and configuring each via a convoluted, product-specific procedure. Having adequate expertise always on hand to deal with your network' s disparate software tools entails lots of cross-training, and the sheer number of products makes technical support a many-headed Hydra.

Lightspeed Systems says it has a better approach. Using what it calls IP Magic technology, Lightspeed has created collections of interchangeable software tools that manage traffic on networks that include one or more Windows NT-based computers. The company claims the tools are easy to install and configure. We put one of the collections, Total Control for e-Business, through its paces in our lab to test those claims.

The comprehensive set of network tool components worked well, and we could arrange the components in highly flexible ways. Moreover, the underlying plug-and-play parts technology is so compelling, we wonder why all network software doesn' t use IP Magic's approach. Total Control for e-Business is especially appropriate for busy companies whose networks need almost daily reconfigurations and installations of firewalls, bandwidth allocators, traffic filters and load balancers.

It's a kind of magic

Between two network adapters in an NT 4.0 computer, you use Total Control for e-Business to insert any combination you desire of what Lightspeed calls IP Magic objects. These objects include source and destination network address translation (NAT) tools, a firewall, traffic filter, packet counter, SNMP agent, load balancer, traffic prioritizer, speed limiter and various other functions. Because each of the mix-and-match interchangeable components has the same input and output parameters, it's possible to string them together in whatever order you want. We found choosing combinations of IP Magic objects an easy, intuitive process. To build each IP Magic network control point, we dragged and dropped icons in Lightspeed's visual design and configuration environment. Saving, loading and activating different IP Magic configurations is as painless as saving and loading word processing documents.

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