Network Physics, a company that venture capitalists invested some $55m (click here for the history), essentially liquidated this week to OPNET for a basement bargain $10m.
I have fond memories of Network Physics at Interop, with guys and gals running around in those loud “It’s Not the Network!” t-shirts. The premise was that their packet-based NetSensory appliance monitors application flows on the network and distinguishes server vs. network delay. I also worked with one of their brilliant engineers on the Apdex board of directors.
It looks like a loss for Network Physics (certainly the investors) but a win for OPNET. Near as I can tell, OPNET will ditch further development in their own their performance management product, ACE Live (announced just last month), and instead go with NetSensory and rename it ACE Live. Got it?
There are many players in the network performance management space with overlapping areas and niches. For instance, Coradiant focuses on Web based performance analytics. NetQoS focuses on Application Performance Management although they are beginning to broaden. They also have some nice integration with Cisco WAAS (Wide Area Application Services). Larger umbrella companies like Compuware and Computer Associates, also have tools that watch application performance. Compuware’s ApplicationVantage comes to mind (part of their Application Assurance portfolio) and CA has tools in this area focused on SLA’s in the web space.
As with any acquisition, how well will the acquiring technologies integrate into a much larger beast? Track records have been mixed. Some 25% of Cisco acquisitions don’t pan out. Witness Network General’s failed comeback and acquisitions and now it’s NetScout’s problem.
Will larger companies lose their identity in this market, specifically application performance management/end-user satisfaction within the network performance space? Or will smaller, but significant and fast growing players like NetQoS trump the big guys?
Speaking of NetQoS, how did they get so far ahead of Network Physics in the performance appliance biz? I’d say partly that Network Physics suffered when shifting gears (like changing your college major mid-term) from shaping traffic to measuring the stuff and that NetQoS recognized early on the value of a feature rich (as in superb GUI) browser-based console coupled with a smart appliance, but I digress.
One thing I do know is that all the long and hard work over the years from Peter Sevcik (the NetForecast guy that started Apdex) pushing the importance of measuring the user-experience, is coming front and center.