Network Associates released a hardware appliance and updated software on Tuesday that will extend the reach of that company's Sniffer network traffic management technology from remote users into data centers at the network core.Network Associates\u00a0released a hardware appliance and updated software on Tuesday that will extend the reach of that company's Sniffer network traffic management technology from remote users into data centers at the network core.The Santa Clara, Calif., network security company announced the s6040 Appliance, a 4U rack-mounted device that accommodates the addition of up to four full-duplex Gigabit Ethernet "blades," or circuit boards, for specialized applications.Those expansion slots will allow s6040 customers to add functionality such as antivirus and intrusion detection as their needs change, said Chris Thompson, vice president of product marketing at Network Associates. In addition, the s6040 appliance comes with eight ports that, together, allow up to four separate media modules running in full-duplex mode to connect to the device.Built for deployment in network data centers or application hosting environments, the s6040 is capable of capturing and analyzing data on full-duplex Gigabit networks with up to 75% of their capacity utilized, with bursts of up to 100% utilization, Network Associates said.The s6040 is part of Network Associates' new 6000 line of appliances. The s6040 uses the network fault detection and reporting capabilities of the Sniffer Distributed Expert software, but is packaged for high-performance network environments,\u00a0Thompson said.The s6040 is capable of\u00a0providing information on traffic patterns and network performance in real time. The device can diagnose problems in networks that use asymmetric routing, load balancing and other high-performance features, Network Associates said. Such features often confuse network intrusion detection and traffic management products, Thompson said.Also on Tuesday, Network Associates announced new versions of the Sniffer Distributed software, as well as the Network Performance Orchestrator (nPO) Manager and nPO Visualizer software products.Sniffer Distributed version 4.3 features improved reporting and analysis as well as a new software-key licensing feature that enables customers to turn on or off features to suit specific deployment needs.The new release includes a version of Sniffer Distributed Expert software for network management and Sniffer Distributed RMON+, a base model appliance with traffic capture and decoding capabilities specially suited for deployment in branch offices and remote sites, according to Network Associates.In addition to companies with large networks such as financial services organizations and Internet service providers, the new s6040 appliance and RMON+ appliance also make the Sniffer technology more attractive to customers with large, but distributed networks, such as retail stores, Thompson said.The new version of Network Associates' nPO Manager technology, nPO Manager 2.0, includes support for multi-trace analysis, which organizes and filters network traffic, allowing administrators to quickly pinpoint the source of problems on a network as well as improved alarm management capabilities.The new hardware and software is part of what Network Associates describes as an end-to-end network management solution called the "Sniffer Network Protection Platform."That new platform is designed to detect, monitor and manage traffic at all points in a network, from edge to core, tying together the company's performance management and fault-detection products with its management software such as nPO Manager and nPO Visualizer, according to Network Associates.Look for Network Associates to follow up its recently completed acquisition of IntruVert Networks and Entercept Security Technologies with the release of network-based protection products, Thompson said.