Network Analysis: Fast and Frugal

Sunbelt tools cut costs, speed tasks.

Sunbelt Software Inc. has developed a pair of administrative tools that deliver fast, inexpensive analysis of directory and network protocol issues for administrators.

The Clearwater, Fla., companys directory reporting tool works across multiple directories, including those of Novell Inc., Microsoft Corp., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc., as well as any LDAP-enabled directory. It reports on security, integrity and compliance in enterprise directories, officials said. The Directory Inspector tool, due this week, lets directory or system managers easily answer such questions as: Where are the users? Do some users have too many security privileges? Are there unused user accounts? Are there duplicate account names?

"It is a management issue when you have multiple directories," said Alex Eckelberry, president of Sunbelt. "For companies with that hodgepodge, to be able to report on them from a single view—this lets you distill complex information."

Directory Inspector, which provides Wizards to guide users through complex directory data, is priced starting at $1,295 for 500 user objects.

Sunbelts other tool, LANhound, also due this week, cuts the cost of basic protocol analysis and network monitoring—especially for switched LANs—in a commercial-grade product. The cost to capture and analyze network protocols such as TCP/IP, NetBEUI, IPX/SPX and AppleTalk on switched networks can be high, since vendors often charge for each remote segment or switch port. Typical protocol analyzers can start at $1,000, plus $395 per remote agent. LANhound, which includes three remote agents for $595, could greatly reduce the cost to monitor and analyze network traffic across multiple segments.

"That pricing will make a big difference," said beta tester Erik Goldoff, systems manager at The HoneyBaked Ham Co., in Norcross, Ga. "You are talking a factor of 10 cheaper. With LANhound, it just starts monitoring the network and shows where the protocol distribution is [and] what the network statistics are."

LANhound displays statistics in charts and bar graphs and lets users set alarms that trigger a packet capture to aid trouble-shooting.