Network Instruments Tool Offers WAN Protocol Analysis

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2002-10-18
Low-cost software-based protocol analysis vendor Network Instruments LLC on Monday will make its first foray into WAN protocol analysis with its new WAN Observer.

The protocol analysis and monitoring provider is moving into hardware-based protocol analyzers with the new WAN analyzer because of a lack of WAN interfaces in standard PC architectures.

Network Instruments still intends to be the price leader among protocol analysis vendors, despite the move to its own hardware platform.

"We typically are 60 percent of the Sniffer price," said Douglas Smith, president and co-founder of Network Instruments, in Minneapolis. "We will compete with NetScout with a fuller product line at a lower price."

The new WAN Observer provides WAN monitoring and protocol capture and decode of WAN traffic traversing either T-1/E-1 or T-3/E-3 links.

It is implemented in Network Instruments distributed architecture, allowing remote WAN probes to feed the data they collect into a central console using TCP/IP.

"You get statistics about the flow on your WAN, including applications, protocols, how much bandwidth is being utilized," Smith said. The WAN Observer can also track errors against a carriers Committed Information Rate and whether there is forward or backward packet congestion that is under the CIR.

The WAN Observer also provides full protocol capture and decodes for not only protocol headers, but payload as well. Captured data is stored for analysis and historical trending.

The WAN Observer is available in three formats. The first is a WAN Observer Probe Kit, which includes all the software and hardware needed to integrate the WAN Observer into a customers own Intel-based system. The second is a 19-inch rack-mount probe similar to those offered by Network Associates or NetScout.

The third is a luggable WAN analyzer intended for field technicians.

Pricing ranges from $6,000 to $9,000 for the probe kit. The rack-mount version ranges from $7,000 to $10,000 for a single port and requires a $3,000 console.

The probes can support multiple ports and can monitor up to 16 T-1s in a single box or up to four T-3s.

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