Cisco beefs up SNA management products

Cisco is expected to revamp its CiscoWorks Blue management software to ease migration from SNA to IP.

Cisco Systems is expected to revamp its CiscoWorks Blue management software to help IS staffs that are still migrating from SNA to IP.

The enhancements speed the time it takes to discover SNA devices and servers in a network by as much as tenfold. Other changes let IS staff manage new types of datastreams and network gear.

Most significant for mainframe users is the upgraded CiscoWorks Blue Internetwork Status Monitor (ISM), Version 2.0.

ISM sits on a mainframe and lets data center personnel monitor Cisco IP devices. The new version of ISM will include a Web-based management graphical user interface (GUI); currently, users rely on the ISM 3270 screen. With the GUI, users not trained on legacy green screens will be able to operate ISM, says Sudhir Nath, a network management product manager at Cisco.

Also coming is the ability to use SNMP commands to manage and monitor Cisco switches and even non-Cisco gear, such as IBM's Open Systems Adapter (OSA). OSA is a card that directly links a mainframe with a LAN. Previously, ISM could only talk to a proprietary "Service Point" interface on a Cisco router; now users can rely on a console to manage a greater variety of devices.

Other improvements to the ISM code let it monitor tn3270 traffic and ensure that specific sessions are up and running, which was not possible before, Nath says.

One beta tester who requested anonymity says the new browser interface for ISM "broadens the audience" for the product. It will make it easy for IS staff not trained on 3270 panels to run ISM using point-and-click browser operations, he says.

However, Cisco should make the browser's color scheme and fonts customisable for users, he adds. Some mainframe shops that have been hesitant to use ISM because it relied on proprietary Cisco commands may find it more attractive now that it supports SNMP, he says.

ISM 2.0 will be available this month for $US20,000.

The company is also beefing up the performance of its CiscoWorks Blue SNA View and its CiscoWorks Blue Maps products, which are being upgraded to Version 3.0. CiscoWorks Blue SNA View sits on a Unix server and lets an IS staff conduct SNA troubleshooting and diagnosis in mixed SNA-IP-based networks.

For instance, CiscoWorks Blue SNA View lets users match SNA and IP traffic streams and locate the source of SNA session failures. CiscoWorks Blue Maps also sits on a Unix box and lets users manage mixed SNA-IP networks while guaranteeing that SNA service levels are being met.

Cisco has tweaked the code in both products so they can discover SNA network topologies faster than before, Nath says. SNA devices or hosts that might have taken an hour or more to find now can be

located in minutes, which can speed critical troubleshooting processes.

Cisco has also ported CiscoWorks Blue SNA View to Windows NT. Previously, SNA View only ran on Unix servers, which can often cost thousands of dollars more than Windows boxes. Additionally, this will allow non-Unix-trained personnel to operate the software.

CiscoWorks Blue SNA View 3.0 and CiscoWorks Blue Maps 3.0 will be available this month and cost between $US10,000 and $US20,000.


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