1999 Product of the Year: Network Management

Network Associates Inc. Sniffer Pro Portable Analysis Suite 2.5WHEN YOUR NETWORK goes down, your business and its bottom line suffer. You must have tools to quickly remedy network-related problems, so network analysis tools have multiplied like rabbits during the last decade. These tools used to be called protocol analyzers, but they have evolved into much more and are now used for reactive troubleshooting and proactive network monitoring and management.

Network analysis tools come in many flavors -- freeware, shareware, stand-alone, or as part of an entire network management system. Of them all, one hops higher than the rest: Network Associates Sniffer Pro Portable Analysis Suite 2.5, which includes SnifferBasic, SnifferProLAN, SnifferProWAN, and SnifferPro HiSpeed.

If you are running a diverse topology and protocol environment, then consider this suite, now in Version 3.0. The protocol decodes shine in terms of breadth and depth. It now offers more than decodes, including support for legacy, mainstream, and new protocols such as voice over IP.

Its decodes aren't its only standout feature. Sniffer Pro's Expert mode is guaranteed to tell you something you didn't know about your network, and in words that you will understand.

Beyond Expert Mode, Sniffer Pro's GUI is both easy to use and powerful. When your network is down, the last thing you need is a confusing or cluttered interface. Whether you like the raw data listed in tables or in a graph or chart, Sniffer Pro delivers the results in many meaningful presentations.

The suite's most significant new must-have feature is Switch Expert. Since switches came on the scene, seeing individual or aggregate traffic has been difficult. But Sniffer Pro understands virtual LAN (VLAN) information from Cisco's switches and mirrors the VLAN to a monitoring port. Using the same Sniffer Pro interface, capturing and analyzing traffic is a piece of cake.

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