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Conquering 10G Network Analysis with TimeLine

Have you made the switch to a 10 Gigabit (10G) network yet?

Despite being around since 2002, only within the last couple of years has 10G become the core backbone and data center fabric used in enterprise networks.  Although there are many benefits that come with 10G, it also introduces a new set of challenges for network managers when problems occur.

At 10G, traditional network analysis and troubleshooting techniques based on real-time, deep packet inspection are severely strained. The key here is “real time.” What does this mean at 10G anyway? Traffic is moving so fast on 10G networks that real-time analysis of anything more than high-level statistics, like overall utilization, top talkers, and top applications, is pure folly. At 10G, the focus shifts from real-time troubleshooting to optimizing the capture of all network data for post-capture, or forensic analysis. By capturing all network data at the packet level, you have an unchallengeable record of all network activity, and with forensic analysis you can perform detailed analysis at your own pace. Also, at 10G it is essentially impossible to replicate network problems – there is just too much data to attempt to reproduce problems for analysis.

This is why WildPackets introduced the TimeLine network recorder in 2010 as the first independently certified monitoring and analysis solution to support 10G connectivity without compromising data accuracy. TimeLine can sustain network data recording with the richest set of real-time statistics at over 11Gbps with zero packet loss, providing both the guidance and the detailed data necessary to determine when, and where, forensic analysis is required.

Below we take you step-by-step on how TimeLine can help when you’re analyzing and troubleshooting your 10G network.

First Step: Capturing Network Data to Disk, Ensuring Zero Data Loss
The biggest challenge in packet-based network analysis at 10G is capturing all the data with zero data loss. You cannot predict in advance what data you might need, so each and every network packet is important. TimeLine has been certified by an independent test lab to capture network data at 11.7Gbps with zero data loss, making it one of the fastest and most versatile appliances on the market today.

Second Step: Storing Network Data for Forensic Analysis
One of the key elements in any network recording solution is how long it can retain data, and this is essentially a function of disk space and efficient storage algorithms. With up to 48TB of disk space, TimeLine is capable of storing nearly two days worth of data at a steady state data rate of 10Gbps, or more realistically, better than eight days at a steady state of 2Gbps, providing plenty of runaway to perform critical forensic analyses.

Third Step: Displaying Real-time Statistics
Even though the focus of network recording is on forensic analysis, it’s imperative that a network recording solution provide some real-time statistics so you can instantly assess the health of the network, and know when you need to dive in for more detailed analysis. TimeLine provides the most complete set of real-time statistics, including key VoIP statistics, so you can be sure your network is behaving as expected without the need for constant forensic analysis.

Fourth Step: Forensics Analysis
Well, this is where the rubber meets the road. You’ve captured and stored the data, and based on the real-time data display you see an area that requires further attention. A simple swipe of the mouse across a time range of interest brings up the network forensics dialog box, allowing you to quickly fine tune your search to return just the data you need, leading you more quickly to the root cause of any network, application, performance, or security issue.

Conclusion
At 10G, it’s important to have the right tools in place to capture the data necessary for network analysis, in other words, a complete recording of all network packets. While it may require an up-front investment to monitor your 10G network, it will save you big in the end by avoiding network downtime, improving tier one application performance, and increasing productivity within the company.

If you are interested in learning more about 10G network analysis check out our TimeLine OnDemand Webcast titled “The Need for Speed – No More Compromises!” and our blog “Why On-the-Fly Analysis Doesn’t Work at 10G.”

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