Vinca Corp. Buys System Management Tool

Vinca Corp. (www.vinca.com) now has access to a crowded neighborhood, but probably won’t be moving in. The company purchased Service Monitor, a product that monitors the health of Windows NT services, from Melbourne, Australia-based Graphics Technologies Pty. Ltd. (www.gt.com.au).

The acquisition represents something of a departure for the company, which has focused on clustering and failover technology for the Windows NT and NetWare markets. While the company plans to continue selling the product on a stand-alone basis, a spokesman says there are no plans to take on the numerous monitoring and performance management tools already in the market. Products with similar capabilities are available from companies such as NetIQ Corp. (www.netiq.com) and BMC Software Inc. (www.bmc.com).

"[Service Monitor’s] primary goal is to enhance our existing product line. You probably won’t see us spending a tremendous amount of effort establishing a presence in the monitoring marketplace," explains Art Dearing, product manager for emerging technologies. But this kind of functionality is crucial in the high availability marketplace."

The product was developed by Graphics Technologies for monitoring Microsoft’s Internet Information Server, but has been extended to monitor other NT services. It can monitor one or more Windows NT services, and work through a predefined action tree when a service fails or shuts down unexpectedly. It can restart a service or reboot a machine if no other corrective action is successful.

Dearing says Vinca plans to upgrade the product and integrate it with the company’s availability products. Part of this effort includes adding a command line interface so the tool can be used more easily in an embedded manner. Currently, it only offers a graphical operator interface.

One Service Monitor user, Michael Evans, systems analyst with the Minerals and Chemicals Division of J.R. Simplot Co. (www.simplot.com), runs specialized control software called scanners, that tracks operations by monitoring a proprietary data control highway used in the company’s Pocatello, Idaho plant. EPA regulations require the company to monitor operations 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and failure of a monitoring system forces the company to fall back on a time-consuming, manual process to verify compliance with EPA regulations.

If the company cannot prove it is within compliance, the EPA automatically determines that it is out of compliance. "The potential costs are huge," explains Evans. "If I stay live, there is no problem. I had one scanner that was failing 2 to 3 times per week. NT just dropped it off. I put it on Service Monitor and it immediately restarts every time it drops off. Granted, I’m fixing the symptom, not the problem, but I have things I can be doing other than chasing down ghosts."

Customers who purchased the product from Graphics Technologies will continue to receive support from that company. Vinca now sells the product from its Web site and through its distribution system, and will support new customers.

A free download version of the product with a 30-day time bomb is available on Vinca’s Web site. The product will be sold for $299 after the current introductory $99 rate, which is in effect until March 14.