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Network General on Tuesday continued trying to build momentum from its spinoff from Network Associates Technology Inc. with a new release of its Sniffer Portable protocol analyzer.

Sniffer Portable 4.8, a software-only analyzer typically used on Windows-based laptops, adds real-time protocol decodes, allowing users to “see details of captured data in real time for quicker analysis,” said Nina Seth, product marketing manager for Sniffer Portable at Network General Corp., based in San Jose, Calif.

The latest release also adds protocol analysis for wireless networks based on the IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g standard specifications.

“You can troubleshoot the latest wireless networks and see multiple access points talking on the same channel to quickly resolve those issues,” Seth said.

The wireless support includes Sniffer Expert analysis, which can help identify wireless-specific anomalies such as rogue wireless equipment and unauthorized wireless users, as well as performance issues.

Sniffer Portable, which Network General repackaged last fall into three distinct suites, is aimed at network field technicians and engineers to troubleshoot problems at specific network locations. The suites include LAN, WAN and combined LAN/WAN topology versions.

Sniffer Portable 4.8 includes advanced filters that let operators drill down to specific IP address ranges, subnet and port numbers, as well as to search on ASCII Hex strings.

In addition to its troubleshooting role, Sniffer Portable can be used to improve IT productivity by determining whether there is enough network capacity to add a new application before it is rolled out, and by verifying whether assumptions of load were accurate after a rollout occurs, according to Seth.

“You can use Sniffer Portable to see if you need to spend money on network upgrades, or whether a key server can be moved to a less-utilized link,” she said. It also can be used to identify inefficient applications, she added.

Sniffer Portable 4.8 is due in mid-April. It ranges from $8,995 for the LAN suite and for the WAN suite, while Sniffer Portable Voice is a $5,000 add-on. The Sniffer Portable Field Service Suite, supporting all three, is $19,000.

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