Network Packet Brokers (NPB) Provide Many Functions, Can be Used in Diverse Ways
February 04, 2013
To understand how network packet brokers are used, it’s important to understand what they do. Basically, it’s a device that collects network traffic. The traffic is used to find improved ways to run network security or tools. The device also leads to better network visibility, improved access to data, improved efficiency and increased return on investment in technology.
The NPB is found often mounted on a rack, and are often seen in complex networks.
There are clear methods used to compare NPBs. Jonah Kowall, research director at Gartner Group, explained in a recent blog post that there are different criteria when reviewing NPB devices.
One important factor is many-to-many port mapping, with a graphical user interface (GUI) or command line interface (CLI) for adjustments of packet flow. A second factor is the filtering of packet data through variables found in packet headers. Two other key factors are packet slicing and deduplication. These let part of the full packet data be passed to a monitoring device. That improves efficiency.
Other key criterion leads to increased precision in measurements. In fact, NPBs use hardware-based time stamps for monitoring tools. And traffic load per device can be distributed to different probes or appliances. That leads to more scalability or redundancy.
In its report, Gartner also noted three features found among market leaders. One is deep packet inspection, which provides routing of packets based on data characteristics. Another is capturing ingress port identification data. Lastly is masking specific data in packets, when confidential regular-format fields are required, such as with credit card numbers.
Overall, NPB is a tool to provide intelligence on networks, provides analytics, security and wide area network (WAN) acceleration, according to VSS Monitoring.
“The challenge is to control the CapEx and OpEx to deploy, utilize and maintain all the tools required, particularly as IP convergence grows in size and complexity,” VSS explained in an online statement. “VSS solves this with their industry-leading Network Packet Brokers.”
“Customers deploy our network packet broker systems to make optimal use of their tools, simplifying operations, increasing efficiencies and achieving higher cost savings,” VSS added. “By making network intelligence more scalable, VSS makes networks more scalable.”
VSS uses a systems-based approach with an IntelliScale architecture. It provides meshed technology that offers scalability as a network monitoring system grows, provides more return on investment, plenty of redundancy to avoid failures, and gives a modular and flexible design. With the vMesh, as many as 256 appliances can be interconnected, according to VSS Monitoring.
Edited by Jamie Epstein