Cabletron taps NDS for app tracking

Cabletron Systems Inc.'s spectrum subsidiary and Novell Inc.

Cabletron Systems Inc.'s spectrum subsidiary and Novell Inc. this week will detail plans to integrate Novell's directory software with Spectrum's Traffic Accountant, allowing administrators to track use of major applications across an IP network.

For IT departments and the growing number of application service providers, tracking and billing for individual use of applications such as SAP AG's R/3 across an IP network has long been stymied by an inability to match access with users. IP addresses are typically assigned on the fly by dynamic host configuration protocol servers, making them an ineffective way to track usage.

Tracking via the directory, however, could change that.

"When an IP address is leased out, we can correlate that back to who the users are by binding with the directory provider," said Patrick Kelly, director of product management for Cabletron's Spectrum unit, in Durham, N.H.

"People are just beginning to understand the wealth of data [available from the directory]. You will see a lot of [ISVs] take that information and find interesting ways to leverage it," said Steve Harmon, director of strategic relations at Novell, in Provo, Utah.

Novell has struck similar deals with Lucent Technologies Inc., Nortel Networks Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. to use NDS (Novell Directory Services) data for their policy-based networking products.

To date, however, those deals have resulted in more talk than action, and at least one analyst questioned the usefulness of such integration.

"This is a strategic move that eventually makes some sense, but ... until you have a critical mass of information stored in the directory, it's not that useful," said Bill Gassman, an analyst at Gartner Group Inc., in Amherst, N.H.

Novell will work with Spectrum to understand how NDS schemata are structured, Harmon said.

The Spectrum applications will use a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol gateway to get information in and out of the directory. That information "will be used to store logical information about end-user infrastructure components such as switches, routers and policies," said David Delcourt, a Spectrum product manager.

Version 2.0 of Traffic Accountant and its Flow Accounting Server integrated with NDS is due in the second quarter of next year. The upgrade will work with Cable tron's SmartSwitch Router and the NetFlow feature in Cisco's IOS. Flow Accounting Server runs on Solaris and will support Windows NT in the first quarter of next year.

Spectrum also intends to integrate NDS into other management offerings, including its policy-aware management applications for quality of service and security.