New network management software is attempting to steal the market away 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 £155 million, causing some uncertainty - which NetScout, for one, hopes to exploit with its latest version of nGenius Performance Manager.

NetScout marketing VP Jim Frey told us of its new software that allows nGenius to interoperate with Sniffer tools and so 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 explained.

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 especially slipped in the wireless space, with WildPackets and AirMagnet taking the lead.

And with Sniffer being spun-off into a new company with an old name, Network General, now is the time to strike. "Most competitors are trying to use this to replace Sniffer," Frey confessed. "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 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 only spent $10,000 on Sniffer are too small for us to go after," he said. "We know that a sgnificant 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.