Tag Archives: 40G network analysis

More Business Video Requires Faster Networks

If video did indeed kill the radio star, then it won’t be long before videos do the same to many other types of online ads and content.

Businesses are using more video than ever before, employing it to reach consumers where they spend a great deal of their time: online. In March of last year, a study found that 85 percent of US Internet users viewed online videos. What’s more, video ads accounted for 25 percent of all videos viewed online. In the year since the report, the pace and frequency of these videos’ production and viewing has only quickened.

Video, however, consumes a lot of bandwidth. As a result, businesses and consumers alike need ever-greater bandwidth to support and consume all the video content being generated. Along with a need for greater bandwidth comes the need for better tools to guarantee high performance and ease in troubleshooting application problems.

Most users are viewing videos on 1G or 10G networks. Even 10G network performance isn’t quite enough to competently serve many modern videos. With users consuming greater amounts of bandwidth, having visibility into the network becomes increasingly important.  This issue is very much top of mind for IT organizations. In fact, 20 percent of the participants in a recent survey stated that they thought real-time network analysis was no longer an option, even at 10G speeds.

Another pressing concern for businesses is visibility within these varied bandwidths. In the aforementioned survey, almost half the participants said they noticed limited or no network visibility as part of 10G network performance.

The solution, then, is a combination of different technologies. Businesses must do their best to optimize the performance of whatever network they’re working on and be sensitive to the fact that users may not all enjoy unlimited or optimized bandwidth. Shorter, lighter videos and tools that enhance slower networks are vital to ensure their content, often a significant investment in its own right, can be seamlessly viewed by the customers for whom it is intended.

Adoption of High-Speed Networks Keeps Growing, as Does Need for Network Monitoring

One of the most impactful ongoing trends in the IT space is growing adoption of 10G, 40G and 100G networks. As businesses continue to utilize more video, emphasize mobile communications and deploy complex cloud-based applications, they are confronted by the reality that 1G networks simply don’t have the capacity to meet these new demands.

Upgrading network capacity was traditionally an expensive investment, particularly for SMBs with limited resources. But just as happens in all markets, with technology maturity comes falling prices, and such is the case for high-bandwidth networking. In fact, Crehan Research Inc. recently released a report that predicts that competition and other factors will result in lower price points in the coming years for 10G, 40G and 100G Ethernet switches, leading to increased adoption of these technologies, and resulting in relatively stable overall Ethernet data center switch average selling prices.

“Aside from continual cost reductions and port-density improvements, price drops are being driven by factors such as increased competition in the data center switch market (including numerous recent entrants), low-priced white box and merchant operating system offerings, and the price negotiating power of some of the very large, hyper-scale public cloud vendors,” said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research, in a statement regarding the report.

More affordable high-speed networking is certainly good news for businesses with increasing traffic demands, but adoption does come with obstacles. Higher rates of data transfer can obscure a complete system view for network engineers, making troubleshooting problems more difficult. As a result, the increased traffic flying across the network—and the applications that rely on that traffic—may suffer.

To combat network visibility problems, organizations can adopt network monitoring solutions designed specifically to handle 10G, 40G and 100G speeds. Top-shelf network analysis and recording tools capture network traffic that makes data available simultaneously for real-time examination. If a performance problem arises, the network administrator is immediately alerted and can tackle the issue. Additionally, network recording tools allow for forensic searches that pinpoint specific network faults or breach attempts and produce benefits like:

  • Network and security data that is captured 24/7
  • Reduced mean time to resolution (MTTR), achieved by eliminating the time-consuming step of having to reproduce problems before they can be analyzed, and responding to issues in real time
  • Greater understanding of service-level compliance within an organization
  • Compliance with government regulations and human resources policies achieved by auditing and tracking all network activity
  • Elimination of brute-force analysis across disparate data sources that is replaced by nuanced graphical reports and application performance scoring

Network monitoring solutions should be factored into the design of these high speed infrastructures otherwise there is a high likelihood of reduced or complete loss of visibility. So the question is: Does your business have what it needs to make the most of a faster network?

Click here to download our white paper, “Real-Time Performance Visibility in 10/40 GbE Networks”

Best Practices for Managing Colossal Networks

40G is more than just a bigger pipe; it introduces significant new challenges in monitoring and analyzing data traversing the network. You can no longer employ the “break/fix” or “point and shoot” troubleshooting techniques used in the past after problems have already been reported. These high-speed networks require proactive, ongoing network monitoring and analysis to keep them performing as designed. And of course your tools must evolve just as rapidly as your network, which is certainly not always the case.

Monitoring and analysis of 40G networks requires updated tools as well as new strategies and approaches. Let’s take a look at some of the key, though perhaps not so new, strategies that must be employed when considering how to monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot a 40G network.

Capturing All of the Data – All of the Time
Performing on-the-fly analysis or trying to recreate problems that you missed the first time around is no longer feasible on high-speed networks. It is essential to capture network data 24×7, and store as much detailed data, down to the packet level, that you can. By doing so, you have a recording of everything that happened on the network, and you can rewind the data at any time to analyze a specific period of time, usage of a specific application, activity on a particular subnet, or even the details of a specific network flow. To do this effectively, we suggest purchasing a purpose-built network forensics solution, one that is specifically designed for high-speed networks, and that also includes a rich set of real-time statistics. This will help keep all of your data into a single repository for easy post-capture analysis.

Your network forensics solution may not be the only appliance that needs access to the 40G network stream. One way to simplify the collection of 40G network data for detailed analysis is by using an aggregation tap instead of connecting an appliance directly to the 40G network via a dedicated tap. This will provide significant flexibility when dealing with the 40G stream. You can just replicate the 40G feed to multiple network tools, or you can use the built-in filtering to send subsets of the traffic to different network tools, depending on your data analysis needs.

Storage capacity is a primary concern when performing network recording. Let’s say your average usage on your 40G link is 25%, or 10Gbps. At this data rate, assuming a network recording appliance with 32TB of storage, you can record 7 hours of network data. An aggregation tap can also help here, allowing you to split the data stream among multiple network recorders to achieve higher overall storage rates. Another option is to connect your network recorder to a SAN for additional data storage.

Understanding What is Normal
Knowing how you expect your network to be perform is all the more critical when trying to analyze colossal networks. In advance of an investigation, you’ll want to establish clear base lines of your network. If you’re already embroiled in a complex network analysis firefight it is too late to realize that your ability to assess “normal” conditions on the network may be lacking.

Analyzing the Essentials
When faced with an issue on your network, you’ll want to first analyze the essentials. The temptation is to try to capture and analyze everything, especially when the source of the problem is not immediately known. You do, however, know certain things about your network, which allows you to be selective in the analysis options you choose. Often a variety of conditions can be immediately ruled out, and using these clues to limit the collection and analysis to only what is necessary dramatically improves network analysis performance. For example, if you’re looking at a 40G network link, you’re probably not capturing wireless traffic, so you can turn off the wireless analysis. Turning off analyses that aren’t relevant to your investigation refines your search, making it more specific, and increases the processing power and throughput of the appliance you’re using.

Knowing the Limits
Even after analysis has been streamlined to only essential areas of the network, data capture for network analysis on 40G networks generates a great deal of data quickly, and managing the data becomes a significant challenge. Effective analysis requires that you know the limits of your tools, not just the available space for storage, but the processing limits of your appliance as well as how many users can access the appliance concurrently and perform analysis.

Moving from 1 to 10 to 40G introduces new challenges that are still being worked out in the industry, especially when it comes to support for network monitoring, analysis, troubleshooting, and security tools.

If you are in the midst of an upgrade or are thinking about upgrading to 40G, be sure to include the correct tools in the upgrade plan and budget, including solutions for establishing network baselines, capturing and storing the data 24×7, and performing network forensics as needed. It’s easy to continue to treat these networks like 1G, but they’re vastly different and require a new strategies for analysis.