By: Jason Echols, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Ixia
Data Center networks continue to expand and grow in bandwidth and complexity.
At the same time, today's monitoring infrastructure – with its seemingly endless proliferation of monitoring tools – has become more complex, more demanding and more intrusive of your production network. Unless network monitoring can become simpler, it will never be able to catch up and keep up.
Network monitoring becomes more like consumer software
Consumer software (and to some extent, enterprise software) has evolved toward greater simplicity, but network monitoring for the most part still remains complicated and difficult. For example, technicians still use command-line software, de-duplicate packets manually, jump among multiple utilities and screens, and write and use lots of low-level scripts. They can't easily visualize all network traffic, get ahead of problems, or optimize the performance of their tools.
Network monitoring software needs to start looking and acting more like consumer software so network experts can focus on their jobs, rather than learning yet another tool.
One network monitoring technology that's in the vanguard of simplicity is the network monitoring switch. It simplifies network monitoring by overcoming SPAN and TAP shortages and intelligently distributing traffic so that it can be more efficiently shared among multiple monitoring tools. Network monitoring switches apply much of the development that has delivered simplified consumer and enterprise software.
Examples of simplicity in network monitoring
Some of the more significant ways in which network monitoring is becoming more simplified are:
- Using intelligent automation technologies to simplify visual management. For everyday work, replacing the command-line interface with a GUI, and displaying the output of multiple monitoring tools on a "single pane of glass."
- Replacing awkward, largely manual and cobbled-together traffic filtering methods with simpler dynamic filtering.
- Replacing manual actions with intelligent automation of critical management tasks – similarly to how spreadsheets relieved business people of the need to perform routine calculations.
- Anticipating and flagging complex problems before a technician notices them – similarly to how AutoCorrect works in Microsoft Word.
When network monitoring is simplified in these ways, there is a much better chance of scaling monitoring to today's complex, volatile networks.
Scaling visibility, control and performance
Simplification helps achieve scalability of network monitoring in three ways: through better visibility, tighter control, and greater performance.
Overcoming the architectural limitations of SPANs and TAPs leads to complete network visibility, as monitoring tools more efficiently share the network traffic.
Complete visibility, in turn, improves control. Providing the right information to the right tools at the right time helps keep up with data flow and allows more prompt and precise action on changes, problems and opportunities, using intelligently automated management techniques such as:
- Intelligent Traffic Distribution: Packet aggregation for SPAN/TAP shortages and packet routing to the appropriate tools.
- Packet Conditioning: Filtering, stripping, slicing; de-duplication of replicated packets; load-balancing across multiple tools; buffering of burst-y traffic to tools.
- Adaptive Response: Proactive monitoring for changes, bandwidth, incidents and threats, with automatic adjustment of packet delivery to meet needs.
The more-efficient sharing of network traffic leads to better performance from existing equipment and reduces the need for additional equipment. And "smart" instrumentation allows the quick customization of network monitoring, as opposed to the older, less-cost-efficient practice of constant re-instrumentation.
The direct benefits of simplicity
Simplicity in network monitoring switches helps network engineers and managers:
- Optimize traffic for monitoring with advanced filtering, aggregation, and replication
- Extend investments in 1GE monitoring tools to 10GE, 40GE and 100GE deployments
- Automate troubleshooting to reduce MTTR
- Expand network monitoring capacity, enabling simultaneous monitoring of multiple connection points from a single port
Everything that is learned can be immediately deployed everywhere, enabling the staff to spend time optimizing the network rather than managing and configuring the support tools.
About Jason Echols
Jason Echols is Senior Manager, Product Marketing at Ixia. He leads the team responsible for product marketing, channel marketing and field marketing for Ixia Network Visibility products. Prior to joining Ixia, Mr. Echols was a global product manager for Dell networking solutions. He holds a MBA from Baylor University and a BA from Texas State University.