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Darwin Improves Network Efficiency for Cabletron

Published
  • July 01 1998, 1:00am EDT

PLATFORMS: Industry standard UNIX systems running on workstations, SMPs and MPPs from IBM, Sun and HP.

BACKGROUND: Cabletron Systems (NYSE:CS) is the recognized leader in providing high-performance intranetworking solutions, including LAN and ATM switches and advanced network and systems management software. Under its Synthesis product framework, Cabletron markets products throughout the world for linking and managing enterprise-wide networks.

PROBLEM SOLVED: SPECTRUM Enterprise Manager, Cabletron's integrated systems and network management platform, collects live data-- including network events, alarms and statistics--for 24 hours and then unloads them to an off-line repository in order to make room for the next day's data. With over 200 integrated applications, and each tool storing hundreds of pieces of data every ten minutes, the archival database can become extremely large. One of Cabletron's internal subnets, used primarily by software developers, was exhibiting inconsistent response times. Although the network would usually return to normal within an hour, the administrator did not know what caused the degradation, nor what fixed it. Using 18 weeks of historical data from the subnet in question, Darwin enabled Cabletron to discover a high correlation between loads on particular ports in their corporate network, expressed as rules and confidence levels. Once the rules uncovered cause and effect relationships, the problem was easily remedied. Cabletron is applying Darwin's capabilities in three areas: using event correlation for fault diagnosis in situations where the faults cannot be diagnosed with traditional methods, building a behavior model of a network device, and producing a behavior model for the entire network.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Darwin provides a full suite of scalable and parallelized mining algorithms, including neural networks, decision trees, genetic algorithms and memory-based reasoning. From the user's perspective, Darwin runs identically on single- or multi-CPU platforms. This enables the best method and platform to be selected based on the given problem. Darwin's methodology- based GUI provided Cabletron with an intuitive and easy-to- use environment in which to pinpoint difficult network problems.

STRENGTHS: Darwin's major strengths are speed and accuracy. Using parallel processing patents and techniques, Darwin reduces the time it takes to deliver applications. Models may be built using multiple CPUs, built simultaneously with different algorithms or chained together for improved accuracy and speed of model development. This enables Darwin to handle virtually any size database or data warehouse.

WEAKNESSES: Although very solid as far as data mining, an on- line integrated tutoring module would make Darwin more robust.

DELIVERABLES: Darwin delivered a model which can be used for prediction of enterprise behavior, both at the physical and application levels. Darwin provided a highly accurate analysis of Cabletron's SPECTRUM data set. Darwin also provided a report to improve network efficiency.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Cabletron's data mining challenges included analyzing very large data sets that would benefit from multi-processing. Cabletron recognized Thinking Machines' experience in providing a multi-algorithm approach to solving business problems, making Darwin a strong choice. Cabletron chose the StarTree tool from Darwin's toolset because it allowed them to generate a simple set of rules that specified the behavior of their network.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Thinking Machines provided continuous on-site consulting and support services through product completion.

DOCUMENTATION: Thinking Machines provided extensive documentation for Darwin, including user manuals, installation guides, technical summaries and release notes. Documentation is available in hard copy or on-line.

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