Understanding Network Packet Brokers
Network Packet Broker (NPB) defines a new category of compact, hardware-based, rack-mounted devices that offer a new approach for handling and manipulating network packets. NPBs optimize the access and visibility of traffic from one or many network links to monitoring, security and acceleration tools. NPB capabilities include:
- Aggregation of monitored traffic from multiple links/segments
- Filtering and grooming of traffic to relieve overburdened monitoring tools
- Load-balancing traffic across a pool of tools
- Regeneration of traffic to multiple tools
NPBs intelligently distribute traffic flowing from network devices across various port mappings—many-to-many, any-to-many, many-to-any, and any-to-any. Formerly NPBs were known as data monitoring switches, data access switches, matrix switches, or traffic aggregators. The category of NPB encompasses all of these.
Managing Network Monitoring at Scale is an Increasing Challenge
Today’s networks are under pressure to scale due to increasing business critical uses such as Big Data, the transition to 10G and 40G, mobile devices, BYOD, data-center consolidation, and bandwidth-hungry SaaS applications. Additionally, traffic is being generated from different network infrastructures including virtual, physical, remote sites and cloud, causing the following challenges IT is facing today:
- Data Center Consolidation, which must service multi-tenant environments, resulting in larger, more complex architectures.
- Growing Server Virtualization which drives up the ratio of virtual machines (VMs) to physical hosts. Resulting bandwidth demands create pressure to upgrade networks to 10G.
- Granular Security, and too often, their monitoring and security tools are inadequate. Meeting urgent security demands and operational requirements calls for additional tools and growing numbers of SPAN/mirror ports which cause performance issues such as dropped packets; tools fail to keep up with throughput and available port requirements.
- Meeting Stricter SLA and Downtime Requirements poses yet another risk when ports must be provisioned or reconfigured.
Benefits of Network Packet Brokers
NPB provide a system-based approach to network security across physical and virtual network infrastructure boundaries without compromising visibility. NPBs provide capabilities to process, consolidate, and filter monitored traffic while controlling costs and future-proofing the network. These capabilities make NPB ideal to help organizations solve network monitoring challenges by enabling organizations to utilize security and monitoring tools more efficiently, centralize traffic monitoring and security functions, and share tools and traffic access among groups. The compact footprint, scalability and ease-of-use of NPBs not only help lower CAPEX and OPEX, but allow organizations to manage the network efficiently amid a dynamic and challenging environment.
Thanks to Net Optics for the article.