Compuware Improves EcoPredictor Modeling Tool

Unexpected problems are a part of the IT professional's life. Work would be much easier if problems were identified before they occurred and time and money are lost. Unfortunately, network management is an inexact science, and the gap between theory and practice is critical.

Compuware Corp. (www.compuware.com) now has a tool that applies theoretical, mathematical models to existing networks to get a sense of present and future performance. The EcoPredictor 3.0 uses current data to model the network infrastructure to determine if failures are on the way.

Previous versions of EcoPredictor let managers model their networks and get a sense of how much traffic and how much data can move through before devices will encounter problems. Unlike monitoring tools like Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView, which simply determine what’s going on when problems happen, modeling tools offer a proactive feel for network thresholds.

"People haven’t had a way to forecast needs," says Chris LeBaron, EcoPredictor product director at Compuware. Its product works alongside monitoring tools to ensure that networks remain stable. "EcoPredictor tells you what breaks first and when," he says.

The product also provides load balancing tools that let users apply EcoPredictor’s suggestions, immediately, instead of waiting for new equipment. "It allows IT professionals to see in advance -- to add bulwark caps or device caps to avoid failure," LeBaron says.

In addition to allaying managers’ fears, the tools could offer a sense of satisfaction. If a network is configured elegantly, LeBaron says "you can see the cumulative efficiency of everything working together."

Modeling is not an everyday activity, says Ray Paquet, vice president of software infrastructure at GartnerGroup Inc. How often users need to evaluate the system depends on a number of factors. "Frequency is a function of the volatility of the network infrastructure," he says.

One of the new features of the EcoPredictor is the ability to forecast the impact a new application on the network. With new functionality, users could bog down the network in unexpected ways, crashing systems or the network. "You don’t know it the new application will drag down existing devices," LeBaron says.

The focus on application deployment offers another point for managers to consider when their systems may be bordering on instability. The tool will assess the current system, as well as the impact of new applications.

The modeling system now analyzes the potential impact of the application on the network environment and assesses what damage, if any, the new load will do. The system employs mathematical models to convert quantitative data into qualitative information about the systems.

Compuware has pledged to integrate EcoPredictor with their present monitoring software, EcoScope. The monitor and the modeling tool have a useful synergy, giving users a feel for the present and the future. "It will build you a model of the network, creating an early warning system that will run itself," LeBaron says.

A vision of brainless drones running a network is still a fantasy. Paquet feels that users still need a sense of critical systems and use changes to use these tools effectively.