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Cisco vet launches net management start-up

Windmill Networks this week officially launched and introduced its management integration software that industry watchers say could help reduce network performance management headaches and speed troubleshooting for time-strapped IT staff.

With decades of experience in the network industry, including time spent at Cisco, executives at start-up Windmill Networks say their flagship software will hit a nerve with network managers looking to more efficiently troubleshoot problems, optimize network performance and reconcile management data across distributed systems. The company, founded in April 2007 and based in Huntsville, Ala., is headed up by former Cisco staffer Fred Gray, who co-founded Windmill Networks, serves as CTO and is currently acting CEO. He says 10 years working with Cisco clients revealed to him the need for integration across management platforms.

“The network management staff typically ends up with many tools that require a lot of care and feeding and none of which work well together,” Gray says. “In my experience, I find most network managers are tired of using Perl spackle to tie all the network management tools together. We have developed a system that communicates across tools without a lot of drudgery on network managers' part.”

Windmill Integration Manager (WIM) installs as a VMware virtual appliance that includes a data correlation engine, which translates and reconciles information collected from multiple third-party management applications such as IBM Tivoli software or CiscoWorks. Customers pick and choose which agents to install depending on what management applications they have running in their environment. Network managers view data and generate reports via an Ajax-based user interface that supports all major Web browsers.

WIM would work well in large enterprise networks that can have anywhere between 2 and 60 management applications running simultaneously in their environments. The software aggregates data from third-party applications and translates, or reconciles, the information so that it can be easily compared and contrasted with data from other systems. This process alone could go a long way toward reducing troubleshooting time, analysts say.

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