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Network Associates launches network security software for smaller companies

Network Associates has unveiled network and security management software aimed at small and midsized users that ar priced at about half of what the company's enterprise-class products cost.

The Netasyst Network Analyzer software is intended for management of 10/100 Ethernet installations and 802.11 wireless networks at companies with up to 500 end users, said Chris Thompson, vice-president of product marketing at Network Associates. 

The product can help users automate network and application problem resolution, and it will also provide IT managers with packet-level data about network performance and the functioning of firewalls, intrusion-detection and -protection systems and other security technologies. 

Austin Bank began testing Netasyst early this month on a network that supports operations at 19 branch offices, said Jeff Sowell, a network engineer at the bank.

The bank has already used the tool to monitor slow response times on a Microsoft SQL Server database application and to track an apparent network intruder, who turned out to be a telephone technician who was using the network for maintenance purposes without first notifying anybody at the bank. 

Sowell looked at several network management products but liked the idea of using a tool from a well-known supplier. In addition, Netasyst turned out to be easy to use.

"The expert network analysis is handy for somebody like me who doesn't do this every day," Sowell said. "It makes any idiot pretty good at analysing traffic." 

Network Associates is primarily known as a supplier of security software for large companies, said Stephen Elliot, an analyst at IDC. But the network management market for smaller businesses is fragmented and not well served by management tools suppliers such as IBM's Tivoli Software unit, Computer Associates International and Hewlett-Packard. 

The closest competitors to Netasyst will be products from Ipswitch, WildPackets and Network Instruments. 

Netasyst relies on underlying technology that is used in Network Associates' enterprise-class Sniffer product line, Thompson said. But the offering will be sold as software, whereas most of the Sniffer products are appliances that include both software and dedicated hardware. 

Another distinction between the two product lines is that Netasyst will not work on Gigabit Ethernet networks or over Wans, Thompson said. 

Pricing for the Netasyst software ranges from $1,395 (£888) to $6,590 (£4,427), compared with a $12,000 (£7,644) price tag for the company's entry-level Sniffer Portable device.

Matt Hamblen writes for Computerworld


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