Article

Sniffer updates nothing to sneeze at

Andrew R. Hickey, News Writer

Still reeling from its messy breakup with software maker McAfee Inc., Network General Corp. hopes new advancements to its Sniffer products proves once and for all that the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor is back.

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Network General announced several new updates to its enterprise network management and performance analysis platform this week at the Sniffer User Summit in Miami.

Leading the charge is a new incarnation of the company's data capture tool, the InfiniStream. Version 2.5 gives real-time, stream-to-disk capture of Gigabit and 10/100 Ethernet, WAN and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) data. It also uses Sniffer decodes and Expert Analysis. Combined, the capabilities provide what Network General calls "Retrospective Analysis," back-in-time and real-time network and application analysis performed by recording and analyzing traffic over several hours, days or weeks. The InfiniStream 2.5 stores up to 4 terabytes of data.

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Learn more with our guide to network performance management

Check out a Q&A on the state of network management

The InfiniStream finds the root causes of network performance problems and allows for troubleshooting on every topology, including VoIP, said Tom Bienkowski, Network General's director of product management. It helps administrators solve performance problems more quickly without interruption, Bienkowski said. InfiniStream 2.5 also integrates with other Sniffer tools, which enhances trend analysis and capacity planning-based reporting.

Along with the InfiniStream update, Network General yesterday also introduced the Sniffer Enterprise Administrator 4.0, which allows centralized management, administration and security of Sniffer resources. It automates essential processes and allows IT administrators to configure hundreds of options on one Sniffer agent and then clone the configuration across other agents throughout the enterprise. When combined with the tool's ability to automatically download the operating system and Sniffer updates and patches, the tool ensures security and policy compliance, Bienkowski said.

The Sniffer Enterprise Administrator gives a single-console view across multiple appliances, allowing single sign-on and administration of all Sniffer devices from one console, cutting down on time and eliminating the need for administrators to physically access the Sniffer devices.

Other announcements made yesterday by Network General include:

  • The Sniffer MultiSegment Intelligence 4.0, a tool that detects inefficiencies on up to eight network segments as traffic flows between network points. It lets administrators find where a problem is and determine whether it is a network or application flaw.
  • The Sniffer Enterprise Visualizer 4.0, which gives visibility into the health and availability of applications, LAN and WAN traffic, and allows rapid tuning of applications. It offers trend reports with confidence ratings and gives in-depth, end-to-end visibility into clients, applications and subnets.
  • The Sniffer InfiniStream i120, a line rate, stream-to-disk tool that monitors, measures, manages and resolves network problems on the network's edge or in small deployments. It stores up to 300 GB of data that network managers can use to analyze network performance and trends.

Robert Whiteley, analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., said Network General's move to include application performance analysis with its network and protocol analysis line will help for better end-to-end management of the entire network.

"It finally allows the finger-pointing to stop," he said. "Now they can definitively say whether it's an application or network problem. This is a great feature when all is said and done."

Whiteley said bringing network analysis capabilities into the application space is a "natural extension" for Network General.

"It's a management interface that plugs into a sort of manager of managers very seamlessly," he said.

Whiteley added: "Kudos to Network General for waking up … They're coming back around and saying, 'Let's go out and make sure none of the small guys start to snip away at us.'"


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