Compuware acquires Optimal Networks

The sale of Optimal Networks Corp. to Compuware Corp. should be a winning proposition for information technology departments that want to be able to use the same tool set from an application's inception to monitoring it in a production environment, analysts say.

Although the two companies have been occasional competitors, the overlap in tool functionality "is more apparent than real," said Dennis Drogseth, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo. Details of the sale, which was announced Monday, weren't disclosed.

The Optimal tools add application-performance monitoring to Compuware's EcoSystem network modeling tools suite. Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Compuware's $40 million purchase in November of CACI's Comnet added network capacity planning capabilities.

"IT application caretakers will really benefit if Compuware can do more to correlate EcoScope, EcoPredictor [the CACI network planner] and Optimal's Application Expert, and turn their QA-Load test tool into an active endpoint agent simulating user activity for these tools," said Patrick Dryden, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Durham, N.H.

Compuware will use the integrated suite of tools in its eDynamic Service and to test the management service provider waters, said Elisabeth Rainge, an analyst at International Data Corp. (IDC) in Framingham, Mass. The company will begin beta testing in the coming months, she said.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Optimal's best known tool is its Application Expert, which captures entire sessions on an application, allowing managers to view performance step-by-step.

Integration of Application Expert into EcoSystem will aid communication within an IT department by letting application developers and application and network managers use the same tool set, said Paul Bugala, an IDC analyst.

As an IT manager, "I've used the Optimal tools at two different companies," said Jean-Pierre Garbani, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. "I'd talk with the application people and ask them what infrastructure they required to support the application," Garbani said. "Most of the time, they didn't know." By testing the application with Application Expert, Garbani said he could determine those requirements before putting the application into use.

Optimal last year formed a strategic partnership with Aprisma Management Technologies, formerly called Spectrum, in Durham, N.H. Patrick Kelly, Aprisma's product management director, described how Application Expert works: "Say [the application] works fine over the LAN but not when you run it on the WAN," he said. The software lets a manager play back the session and see what caused the delay. "No one else has taken that approach," Kelly said.

Application Expert, Application Vantage and Application Preview are available now and priced, respectively, at $20,000, $35,000 and $15,000.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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