The more data can tell us, the better equipped to identify and resolve network threats and maintain network performance. Metadata provides the context we need to understand the whole story – to know the what, why and how of data, rather than just the when and from where. These insights are brush strokes to a painting; as detail increases, so does value and visibility.
But in large networks, collecting metadata can create performance challenges. Duplicating network traffic and generating metadata is taxing on network devices. It creates additional overhead which, when spread across the many network devices on large networks, results in degraded network performance. What’s required are monitoring tools that can collect and distribute packet metadata or duplicate network traffic as dedicated network devices.
This is where network taps come in. A network tap is a dedicated device able to access and monitor specific traffic flows across a network, such as through a network cable or between two devices. The advantages of network taps extend beyond their utility as a dedicated network monitoring device, allowing network managers to monitor specific network flows; because they’re able to collect more metadata, they’re a great way to improve network security. They’re also non-obtrusive: network taps have no address on the network and cannot be detected.
How do they work?
Network taps are physical devices that require physical wired or fibre optic connections. At the point at which they’re connected, they create a physical duplication of network traffic. As we’ve already mentioned, the key differentiator here is that they do not impact network performance; network taps enable managers of large and distributed networks to maintain visibility, up until the last mile of connectivity.
Ixia: featuring the largest range of network tap types of any vendor
Naturally, not all network taps are the same; Ixia’s network taps feature expanded capabilities and improved synchronisation with other network devices. Once duplicated, Ixia’s network taps send traffic to Ixia’s packet brokers: another product in Ixia’s suite of products which, in combination with Ixia’s network taps, empower network monitoring, security and analysis. These packet brokers distribute the traffic and packets required for each tool, as well as generate metadata and similarly distribute that to connected network tools, as required.
Ixia’s network taps, regenerator taps and tap aggregators help cover conceivable blind spots with 100% network visibility. With a diverse range of network taps – covering all types of network connections – Ixia makes it possible to monitor network data and performance on a more granular level. Strategically placed, these network taps ensure the network is continually generating metadata, to be fed into network analysis tools – to identify, resolve and optimise – without overhead to network performance or, significantly, hands-on management.
Introducing adequate network monitoring while maintaining performance is often a balancing act. It is this struggle that Ixia’s network taps resolve. With them, data packets are collected and distributed at speed. Existing monitoring tools are optimised, and network performance is unimpacted by the improvement of analysis and security.
For more information on network taps and the Ixia products best suited to your network, contact us today.