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Vantage Suite or similar packet tracer for the non-engineer

In the late 90's a guy showed up at the place I worked and demonstrated a product called "Application Expert" from the company Optimal, I believe.  He showed us how we could find out for sure, and see visibly, exactly what was going on with the network packets.  

We had an application that was taking too long to handle data transactions, and it was a vicious cycle of blame.  The application developers said it was the network's problem, the network guys said it was the database's fault, and the database guys said it was the application developers fault.  The consultant took about 20 minutes and handed a report to each department that showed how much time was being taken by their resource, and it took our workers about an hour to resolve the problem.

For the last couple of days our network has been seeing some severe slowness problems.  I'm only a lowly developer, and of course the network guys are "on it" feverishly.  But I got thinking about that old Application Expert demo and wondered if it was still around.

A quick search of the internet showed me that back in 2000 a company called CompuWare integrated it into their suite of tools called EcoSystems, which probably became their Vantage Suite.  But there is nothing I can see on the CompuWare web leads me to believe they offer such a product.

My question for the experts is, does anybody know about this tool, and where I might be able to download an eval copy... or is there other software out there that can analyze network traffic, perhaps by application, and show me what the packets are doing at each point of interest (network, database, workstation, etc.) in pictures, without my having to become a network engineer or learn how to see the world in hexidecimal?
1 Solution
You can download Ethereal for free.  It is an open source packet capture tool and actually has some "expert" capabilities now which is what you are looking for.  Unless you know what you are looking for though, and can understand a packet trace and read hex, it can be difficult to find the root cause.  

The best (for a price) packet sniffer is (IMO) Network General Sniffer.  Other good ones are NI Observer, Wild Packets Etherpeek etc.  I believe you can download evals of all of them.  Some only let you capture a limited number of packets etc.  If I remember correctly NG Sniffer eval is fully functional.  You do have to fill out a form and get a few e-mails...

If you are in a switched network keep in mind all you will see is broadcast and multicast traffic.  Unless you either mirror a switch port, put a hub inline on the segment you want to sniff, or have a "tap".  


Hope this helps.
Personally I have used ethereal , and its good, runs on Linux and Windows.

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