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Sniffer relaunched as Network General

Sniffer Technologies, formerly a division of McAfee,  has relaunched as a new, independent and privately held company called Network General.

The company was formed after McAfee, formerly Network Associates (NAI), sold its Sniffer division to investors at Silver Lake Partners and Texas Pacific Group for £147m in April.

The new company will aim to build on the Sniffer brand name and large customer base, developing the Sniffer line of network performance management technology and focusing on the needs of network managers, said Nancy Blair, vice-president of marketing at Network General.

The announcement completes the partial devolution of NAI, formed when the original Network General was acquired by McAfee Associates in 1997. The separation has been welcomed by Sniffer engineers and staff, who often found their efforts spread across NAI's array of security products such as anti-virus and firewall software, Blair said.

Even without the sponsorship of McAfee, the new company will be a major player in the market for network performance management technology, with 600 employees worldwide, 6,000 customers and more than £107m in annual revenue. "We're the biggest startup that network management market's seen in a long time," Blair said. 

The new company will invest in new technologies that languished "on the shelf" at McAfee, including products and services designed to take advantage of growth markets such as Ethernet switching, wireless networking and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, she said.

Companies that are installing new IT infrastructure and phasing out older platforms such as Windows NT are also a key market, she said.

One area where the company will expand is in what Network General executives term "application performance management". The company will be pushing its Appera product, which gives network managers information about applications that are running on a network and how network traffic is flowing between network endpoints, Blair said.

The company will also be reinvesting in the Sniffer products, including Sniffer Portable and Sniffer Distributed to create features tailored to problems facing "next generation" networks as well as traditional networks, the company said.

Network General also plans to expand its global direct sales and reseller networks and does not discount the possibility of partnering with seeming competitors such as Computer Associates International, BMC Software and Mercury Interactive.

Network General could provide technology that works seamlessly with point products and management tools from those companies, giving network managers a detailed picture of network and application performance, she said.

Paul Roberts writes for IDG News Service

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