Hewlett-Packard Bolsters Network Analyzer Offering

The network analyzer market is heating up this month.

Network Associates Inc. (www.nai.com) has held a commanding lead in sales of network monitoring and troubleshooting software. One International Data Corp. (IDC, www.idc.com) study showed Network Associates with more than 75 percent of the market, followed by Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), Wavetek Wandel Goltermann (www.wwgsolutions.com) and others.

At the May Networld+Interop show in Las Vegas, HP showed signs of getting more serious about the market, and may be making a run at some of Network Associates’ market share. HP’s offerings had been targeted at the higher end of the network space: ATM and Gigabit Ethernet network backbones and WANs. But at N+I, HP committed to the LAN part of network analysis with the launch of its HP LAN Analyzer product line.

"This new line complements our existing products with next-generation solutions for LAN analysis, targeted directly at the needs of enterprise network managers," said Bill Mortimer, general manager of HP’s Network Systems Test Division, in a statement.

The product line uses technology licensed from Shomiti Systems (www.shomiti.com). Shomiti is a 4-year-old San Jose, Calif., company that specializes in network analysis products for analysis, monitoring and diagnosing local area networks.

The products help users capture and decode network traffic, troubleshoot network equipment, tune network performance, isolate bottlenecks on LANs and perform remote monitoring of multiple network locations. HP LAN Analyzer comes in software only and hardware-and-software combinations. The line is scheduled to ship this month.

"I would say that HP is going to be giving far more competition to Network Associates, simply by having a full product set," says Elisabeth Rainge, an analyst with IDC.

Network Associates, however, remains a moving target.

The market dominator also made an announcement at N+I: A revamped and upgraded version 3.0 of its Sniffer Total Network Visibility (TNV) suite will be available in the third quarter.

The acquisition-prone Network Associates first rolled a series of network analyzer tools into the Sniffer TNV suite at the 1998 N+I this past fall in Atlanta, calling the suite Sniffer TNV 2.0. The suite combines Network Associates’ Sniffer Pro Portable Analysis Suite, Distributed Analysis Suite and Network Informant Suite.

The focus of the revamped suite is to resolve problems on heterogeneous enterprise networks, guarantee quick responses for business critical applications, integrate voice and video with traditional data traffic and support e-commerce business models.

DSS/RMON probes on potential network bottlenecks in combination with Expert Analysis for HTTP and Frame Relay are Network Associates’ answers to e-commerce issues. The suite counts new voice-over-IP (VoIP) decodes among the 400-plus decodes in the latest version. The suite includes Expert Analysis for fast networks, including ATM up to OC-12 and Gigabit Ethernet.

This version also includes decodes and Expert Analysis across all seven network layers for improved troubleshooting of application performance and response times.

The Network Informant product, a network-specific reporting tool built on the enterprise reporting product Crystal Reports from Seagate Software (www.seagatesoftware.com), includes new proactive monitoring of switched networks, giving visibility into device performance levels. A Switch Expert component also enables setup and maintenance of Virtual LANs.

IDC’s Rainge says customers will probably upgrade to the new suite when they start running into problems with their switched networks.

"Switches are a large problem in the network, and it is very much a troubleshooting issue where you need to figure out where the problem is," Rainge says.