As networks scale up to 40/100 Gbps, network managers encounter serious problems: many of today’s traffic monitoring, management and security tools are incapable of operating well, or even at all, at these high data rates. Complicating this challenge is the need to have a sufficient number of interface ports, to access all of network links needed to get full visibility into traffic and sessions.

To resolve these needs, network TAPs and network packet brokers (NPBs) must be able to scale to higher port densities. Also, NPBs need to work both smarter and faster to be able to capture, consolidate, manipulate and otherwise optimize traffic. 

The potential problems caused by the lack of full traffic visibility, when using 1/10 Gbps tools to monitor, manage and secure 40/100 Gbps networks, goes well beyond protecting the investment in those tools. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”

The Visibility Foundation: TAPs and NPBs

A basic TAP is a passive device that copies or replicates traffic flows in their entirety from network links to monitoring output ports on a 1:1 basis. Some TAPs can aggregate traffic from multiple network ports to a single monitoring port (N:1) and/or regenerate traffic from a single network port to multiple monitoring ports (1:N)

Intelligent traffic optimization is available in network packet brokers. NPBs serve in a third-party mediator or “broker” role capable of mapping packet flows from any network TAP, switch or router port to any monitoring and management tool’s port. NPBs create a layer of abstraction and intelligence between the network infrastructure and the tools that monitor, manage and secure the various network functions and networked applications.

NPBs can also be used in line to support active network security applications and other in-line applications. NPB is also be able to optimize traffic flows by manipulating packets in ways that switches do not. These additional capabilities include load balancing, full Layer 2–7 inspection, filtering, slicing, reordering, deduplication, fragment reassembly, stripping off protocol headers, and accurate time and port stamping. Some of these techniques for optimizing traffic are what make the NPB essential to scaling network visibility.

Conclusion

Build up a mediation layer between your network and inline or out of band tools.

 

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