Sniffer Network Analyzer Made for SMBs

Software-based protocol analyzer is designed specifically for more cost-conscious SMBs with IT "generalists" on staff.

The Sniffer Technologies division of Network Associates Inc. on Monday will finally address the small to medium-sized business market with a light version of its Sniffer protocol analyzer.

The new Netasyst Network Analyzer is a software-based protocol analyzer designed specifically for more cost-conscious SMBs with IT "generalists" on staff, according to Steve Finegan, product launch manager at Network Associates in Santa Clara, Calif.

"Small businesses rely on their networks as much as large businesses. Up to now they havent had a sophisticated tool at the right price and right packaging to solve their network and application problems, or make their network more efficient and increase the level of security," said Finegan.

The Windows 2000- and Windows XP-based protocol analyzer works specifically with the most common network topologies in use in SMBs, including 802.11a and 802.11b wireless as well as 10/100 Ethernet on copper.

Although two competitors—Wild Packets and Network Instruments—are well established in the SMB market with competitive offerings, Finegan said the Netasyst Network Analyzer is the only protocol analyzer for SMBs that provides protocol decodes for both Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server. According to a recent Gartner Inc. report, 80 percent of SMBs use Exchange and 70 percent use SQL Server.

The tool can be used to identify and resolve network and applications problems, including pinpointing the source of problems between the network, systems and applications. It can also identify misconfigured devices such as workstations or routers.

At the same time, IT staff can use the tool to verify the presence of viruses in servers or workstations, and it can provide packet-level detail that can verify the effectiveness of firewalls or Virtual Private Networks.

Network Associates simplified the user interface in the tool and created a number of real-time monitoring graphs. Users can also get an overview of how their networks are performing with the Sniffer Dashboard. Customers have the option of using Netasyst Network Analyzer with the Sniffer Expert for more automated analysis of network problems.

In using the tool to optimize existing resources, users can see that an under-utilized link can be used to offload an overloaded link, rather than having to upgrade the network speed or create a new subnet. Netasyst can also be used to determine that poor server response may be due to lack of memory, rather than upgrading the network.

The tool can also be used to determine whether end users are using up bandwidth with non-business related traffic, or to determine whether applications are inefficient or "chatty," Finegan said.

For example, Novell IPX protocols are "chatty and bandwidth intensive," and even after a migration to IP, its possible that IPX legacy traffic may still be traversing a network, he added.

Netasyst Network Analyzer is due out on Monday in six different versions that range from $2000 to $6500.