Network Associates targets SMB management

Network Associates this week announced a tool designed for small and midsize businesses that the company says makes enterprise-level network troubleshooting, security and analysis capabilities available in a low-priced package.

Netasyst Network Analyzer is software installed on a Windows XP or 2000 server, or a laptop for mobile use, that network administrators can use to track application traffic running across their 10/100M bit/sec LANs and 802.11 wireless networks. The software can manage bandwidth allocation, troubleshoot network and application performance, and find potential security threats.

Network administrators would use Netasyst to, say, check how much bandwidth an application consumes and to determine if the network needs to be upgraded before rolling out a new application. The software can detect denial-of-service attacks by tracking the traffic hitting servers on a network. And if an end user reports a poorly performing application, network administrators can use Netasyst to determine the source of the problem.

Netasyst is based on Network Associates' Sniffer Portable technology and incorporates software code the company uses in it enterprise products. The company says it designed the software to include intelligence about network protocols and common problems and known fixes to help less-experienced IT managers solve complex problems.

The company says it made the software easier to use for smaller IT departments and lowered the entry-level pricing (to US$2,000 from $6,500) to attract customers with between 100 and 500 employees. The company offers six versions of Netasyst, ranging from dedicated server software to mobile laptop versions. Customers also can choose to include expert analysis, wireless and other features.

IDC analyst Stephen Elliot says Netasyst could provide SMB customers with an experience tool at a low cost. The software is designed to be easier to deploy and to administer, he says.

"It seems like they've tried to put some enterprise-level IT knowledge into a smaller package for customers," Elliot says. "But the proof is in the execution." He says SMB products from Network Associates and its competitors WildPackets and Network Instruments must be easy to use, inexpensive and easily accessible to an inexperienced IT professional.

"Smaller companies usually don't realize they need network management tools until after they've had a problem. Most of them aren't looking at large vendors to offer a reasonably priced, simple solution," he says.

In other news, Network Associates and competitor Symantec, announced updates to their anti-virus software products.

Network Associates released a new version of McAfee VirusScan, which spots spyware and adware, and lets users detect and remove suspect software applications from systems running VirusScan.

Symantec made similar news with its Norton AntiVirus 2004, which also can pick out programs that are not viruses but pose a threat to Internet users' privacy.

- The IDG News Service contributed to this story.

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