Network Associates upgrades Sniffer line

Network Associates Inc. announced the Sniffer Network Protection Platform last week, which includes a new appliance and revisions of existing software that analysts said will push the vendor into a growing network security market.

The new appliance will allow the faster data monitoring needed for the largest network cores, said Christopher Thompson, vice president of product marketing of the Sniffer division at Network Associates in Santa Clara, Calif. Upgrades to three network management products were designed to work from the core to the network edge, he said. The tools will help customers save time troubleshooting network outages or preventing malicious threats, providing “dramatic ROI for customers,” he claimed.

Among the products is the new Sniffer Technologies s6040 for core cigabit networks within large organizations. It’s designed to capture data for use in network management functions at up to 8Gbps. The s6040 could be deployed in the core of a large institution and used to monitor performance in a branch facility, Thompson said. The company also announced new versions of its Network Performance Orchestrator products and a revision of its Sniffer Distributed RMON+ software for remote monitoring.

The state of Indiana is testing many of the new products and has been using more than US$500,000 of Network Associates’ products for more than two years to monitor and protect a network serving 40,000 users at 830 sites, said Jeffrey Duke, a senior network engineer for the state.

Duke expects to deploy the s6040 once the state converts to a gigabit Ethernet core. He also plans to upgrade to Sniffer Distributed 4.3 because it offers more features, including the ability to analyze IP traffic passing through the network.

When the SQL Slammer virus hit, Sniffer software quickly and correctly told network managers that a virus was causing problems, although managers were mistakenly convinced that a crashed router was the source of all the network downtime, Duke said. Sniffer installations the state made two years ago paid back their costs in several months, because the monitoring has helped reduce troubleshooting time to 10 per cent of what it was before, he added.

The new products help bring Network Associates, a traditional network management vendor, into the network security fold, said Eric Hemmendinger, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston. With these products, Network Associates will compete against Cisco Systems Inc., Symantec Corp. and Netscreen Technologies Inc.