NAIs Sniffer Unit Gets Hit With Layoffs

As it transforms itself into an intrusion prevention company, Network Associates lays off an undisclosed number of people from its Sniffer business unit and outsources a number of those jobs to India.

Network Associates Inc. has laid off an undisclosed number of people from its Sniffer business unit and has outsourced a number of those jobs to India, a company spokesperson confirmed Friday.

The layoffs, which happened within the last two weeks, come at a time when the company is in the middle of an effort to reshape both its image and its product line. Known for years as mainly an anti-virus vendor, NAI now is in the process of becoming an intrusion prevention company. Its acquisitions last year of IntruVert Networks Inc. and Entercept Security Technologies started the company down this road, and NAI seems intent on shedding whatever assets dont fit into that plan. Last month the company agreed to sell its Magic help desk division to BMC Corp.

The Sniffer unit also may fall into that category, especially now that some of its engineering staff has been let go. The Sniffer product line includes a variety of devices that monitor networks for performance and security issues, and analysts say its not necessarily a good fit with the companys new strategy and the rest of its offerings.

There has been persistent speculation in the industry that NAI is looking for a buyer for Sniffer, but the company has remained quiet about that possibility.

The NAI official would not disclose the exact number of employees who were let go, only saying that "it was not a material number."

"There were some layoffs in Sniffer engineering, and a few in the support organization too," said Jennifer Keavney, spokeswoman for NAI, based in Santa Clara, Calif. "Most of it was due to outsourcing."

NAI laid off about 150 people last May.

Also, sources said that NAI officials are considering changing the name of the company to something that includes McAfee, its most prominent brand. NAI previously was known as McAfee Associates and much of the companys branding revolves around the McAfee name.

Keavney declined to comment on the possible name change.