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Sniffer suffers as rivals takes advantage

The latest entrants to the  network management software market are attempting to steal share from Sniffer by taking advantage of its sell-off.

The popular software was sold by Network Associates at the end of April to Silver Lake Partners and Texas Pacific Group for £155m, causing some uncertainty - which NetScout hopes to exploit with its latest version of nGenius Performance Manager.

NetScout's vice-president of marketing, Jim Frey said its software allows nGenius to interoperate with Sniffer tools and provide advanced troubleshooting.

"Sniffer excels at expert packet analysis, and although we do packet decode tools, some of our customers like to have that extra step. Expert packet analysis is not something we plan to offer," he said.

Commentators have accused Network Associates of resting on its laurels with Sniffer, while younger rivals such as WildPackets and Network Instruments have provided low-cost, high-spec analysers. Sniffer has slipped in the wireless space, with WildPackets and AirMagnet taking the lead.

"Most competitors are trying to use this to replace Sniffer," Frey said. "There is some additional market opportunity, I have to admit, but NetScout is trying to embrace it, not replace it."

He claimed that the $25,000 (£14,000) cost of the interface module, which allows data collected by nGenius probes to be analysed in Sniffer and vice versa, was not unreasonable given that the starting price for nGenius is $50,000.

"People who spent only $10,000 on Sniffer are too small for us to go after," he said. "We know that a significant proportion of our 3,000 customers worldwide also have Sniffer tools, and some have spent far more than $25,000 on Sniffer over the years."

Most will have just the one nGenius server, he added, and there is no limit on how many Sniffer systems or probes can be connected to that server, once licensed.

Bryan Betts writes for IDG News Service


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