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Rolling Review: Network General

Sniffer InfiniStream and Visualizer appliances drill down into network analysis.

The Upshot


Claim
Using a series of appliances, Network General provides the visibility organizations need to manage heterogeneous networks. By enabling monitoring down to the packet level, IT can identify, analyze and resolve critical application performance issues.
Context
In 1986 Network General released the original Sniffer, and the company has embarked on several reinventions over the years in an effort to stay in step with the ever-evolving network management market. By targeting organizations that want to avoid agents, Network General finds itself in a crowded field competing with the likes of NetQoS, which offers network protocol analysis, as well as CA, Compuware, Quest and others that provide agents and synthetic transactions in addition to protocol analysis.
Credibility
Network General takes a network-centric approach to measuring application performance. Problem is, agent-centric systems that combine the same degree of packet-level monitoring do better at determining the root cause of performance issues that originate from applications. Network General's system, without NetScout's technology, is best suited as a post-event analysis tool, rather than a real-time monitor.

Network General APM 7

In this seventh installment of our APM Rolling Review series, we take a look at the Sniffer InfiniStream Platform with AppIntel Intelligence Module and Visualizer Sniffer Platform, Network General's appliance-based answer to troublesome application performance issues. During the course of our review, Network General was purchased by NetScout, which we've also invited to this party.

While NetScout's focus is real-time monitoring and troubleshooting, Network General is much stronger on post-event analysis in that it takes a packet-centric approach to data collection. In contrast, other vendors we've tested complement packet analysis with agents and synthetic transactions to provide customers with a wider range of options. Using an appliance-based approach and continuous long-term capture, Network General monitors data for an entire transaction or series of transactions, then drills down to a specific area, such as an application, for more analysis. Once there, IT staff can conduct a retrospective assessment and try to prevent problems in the future.

Network General's application performance management system is centered on several loosely integrated appliances. Core data collection is performed by Sniffer InfiniStream appliances that capture detailed performance metrics at the packet level. The AppIntel Intelligence piece (which is also available as a standalone appliance) then shows how critical applications perform across the network, and the Visualizer appliance provides network and application performance from a network perspective using customizable dashboards and drill-down analysis. Not reviewed in this test was the NetVigil application, which manages the performance of business services by combining service-related IT components into logical groups.

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