ADC adds policy management to its frame relay gear

By Tim Greene, Network World |  Networking

PORTLAND, ORE. -- ADC's smart DSU/CSUs just got smarter with the introduction of ServicePoint Manager Software System.

With the software, unveiled this week, corporations can boost the performance of designated applications across frame relay links equipped with ADC's existing ServicePoint Service Delivery Units (SDU).

The SDUs plug into frame relay lines and connect them to corporate WAN routers. SDUs gather data on traffic and status of the connections so firms can monitor the connections. Now, with ServicePoint control software on SDUs and ServicePoint Manager on a centrally located server, companies can set which applications get priority as traffic enters a WAN.

Other vendors, such as Paradyne and Visual Networks, monitor links and gather data to verify whether carriers meet service-level agreements, but they don't enforce policies, says Steve Taylor, principal with Distributed Networking Associates of Greensboro, N. C.

ServicePoint SDUs sit at each node of an enterprise frame relay net gathering data not only on permanent virtual circuit performance, but also on how quickly specific traffic types such as Internet or SAP cross frame relay links. Companies can give more traffic priority, avoiding congestion and reducing the need to buy additional bandwidth, says John Hill, technical director for Klameth County District in Oregon.

The district has about 20 schools connected to a central administrative office by T-1 links carrying frame relay, Hill says. Students accessing the 'Net and school administrators accessing business applications use the links simultaneously. ServicePoint prevents students' bandwidth demands from overwhelming administrative applications needed to run the schools. "If we just turned the students loose with RealAudio, our bandwidth would be eaten up in no time," Hill says.

One alternative to throttling back use of the Internet would be adding more bandwidth, something the schools cannot afford, even with subsidized bargain-basement T-1 prices from a state program. "I don't have the budget to go beyond the T-1s I have right now," he says.

Another choice would be adding separate policy-enforcing hardware to the network, but that would make it more complex and require capital outlay, Hill says.

The ability of ServicePoint to monitor use of individual links per application enables the schools to determine how much to restrict certain applications. He says the ability to monitor traffic as it enters and leaves the WAN gives him the ability to confront service providers with statistics that show whether link problems are in the school district network or in the service providers'.

The software allows remote monitoring of the SDUs, cutting down on how often he has to send out one of his staff to diagnose problems, which can mean round trips of 200 miles.

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