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Tag Archives: Network Performance

Security Series Part 3: Improved Network Forensic Performance Bolsters Security Posture

Data breaches are constantly occurring in organizations of all sizes and industries. As such, you should assume that you’re under attack, or that one is forthcoming, and plan accordingly with network forensics tools. These tools must be able to capture, store, and analyze all network incidents going across the wire and replay them as needed. When a data breach occurs, these devices are invaluable.

An effective network forensics solution gives IT organizations and security teams a complete record and analysis of network activity over hours or days. When security tools raise alerts, IT organizations can use the network forensics tools to analyze traffic and find proof that an attack has actually taken place.

Common use cases for forensics include: 1) Confirming whether an incident was a false positive or real 2) Finding proof of a security attack 3) Identifying the source of data leaks 4) Monitoring user activity for IT/HR compliance and 5) Verifying business transactions.

Earlier this week, WildPackets announced the release of Omni 8.0 which accepts  time stamping from network packet brokers such as APCON, Gigamon, and Ixia. In addition, Omni 8.0 offers greatly improved forensics performance by up to 64%! Along with our record breaking capture- Continue reading

When it Comes to Network Performance, Being Proactive is the Key

The best way to solve a big problem is to catch it while it’s still small. Undoubtedly, over the years you have probably heard this same sentiment expressed in a variety of different ways, and it certainly holds true for network monitoring and performance. No matter what business you are in, the importance of proactive monitoring is difficult to overstate.

Information from the research firm TRAC indicates that in 37 percent of cases, IT departments first learn of performance issues from users. Simply put, that is a major problem, because these end-users often don’t even take the time to alert an organization about problems with a website or application, choosing instead to simply abandon it, costing the company money in the process. Not surprisingly, 42 percent of organizations TRAC surveyed reported that improving the quality of the user experience is one of their top strategic goals for managing network performance, but 64 percent said that managing network performance has become more complex over the last 12 months, meaning that some of these companies are unsure as to how they’ll meet that goal.

If your IT is struggling to find and snuff out network performance issues before they become major problems, don’t worry—all hope is not lost. Here are some of the best ways to implement a more proactive network monitoring strategy:

Analyze Performance in Real Time
If you want to keep a finger on the pulse of your users’ experience, you’ll need to find a way to instantly know how a given application is performing at any moment. Simplistic tools merely report response times, but more comprehensive solutions enable network engineers to take a more detailed view of an application and provide some context into the reports being generated. With that information, the engineers have a much clearer understanding of how well or poorly an application or network is performing, and if poorly, what the possible causes are.

Match Equipment with Network Speed  
Increasingly, organizations are turning to 10G and 40G networks. Unfortunately, many of these same companies are using the same network monitoring equipment they used with 1G, and often the legacy technology simply falls short.  With a state-of-the-art monitoring solution that can handle today’s faster networks,  information is available for real-time analysis, alerting, troubleshooting and post-capture “forensic” searches that pinpoint specific network faults or issues.

Implement Sophisticated Alerts and Notifications
With a top-flight alert system, when performance dips below a pre-determined baseline, important contacts are immediately notified. Network traffic is captured quickly, allowing for fast diagnosis and corrective action of minor issues before they become major problems.

Use a Network Traffic Dashboard
With a best-in-class solution that supports real-time dashboards, your IT team can take a broad view of your network or look closely at a specific node or protocol. Any of your IT personnel can instantly view and quickly make sense of information on the dashboard from anywhere on the network, meaning troubleshooting can take place from anywhere that you happen to be working.

Has your business used proactive network management tools to its advantage? Share your experience in the comment section below!

IP Video – It’s like Living with a Teenager

Teenagers. Maybe you have one (or more) at home; maybe not. But we’ve all been one, so I know you can relate. Moody and unpredictable. Overly sensitive. Taking up more space than any human has a right to. High maintenance. They’re just so adorable.

Well, it turns out we have an exploding data type on our networks that behaves much the same way – IP video. In a recent whitepaper by Cisco, it was reported that all forms of video (TV, VoD, Internet, and P2P) will be approximately 90% of the global consumer Internet traffic by 2015. And per the report, that’s 90% of what will be 966 exabytes, or nearly a zettabyte, of IP data. To see what that looks like graphically, check out this link. Although video traffic on the enterprise side will not be as heavy as that on the consumer Internet, it will increase dramatically nonetheless, and will certainly be much more than 50% of the enterprise network traffic by 2015. It looks like you’re going to need both network management and high school guidance counselor skills by 2015 to manage enterprise networks.

With this dramatic increase in video traffic, video will be in competition with enterprise corporate data, enterprise application access, SaaS, and cloud computing. And given its tendency towards teenage behavior, you’re going to have your hands full. Below are a few details of how the characteristics of IP video can adversely affect your enterprise network.

Unpredictable
Video is “bursty,” or in the teenage analogy, unpredictable, which is an undesirable characteristic for networks that work best under stable conditions – predictable and consistent. Packet sizes range all over the place, and often hit the network in large bursts. And of course these bursts are tagged with high QoS (quality of service) tags, so they take precedence over your other mission critical application data. Characterization of your IP video traffic, including weeding out business traffic from surfing, is critical to the health of your enterprise network.

Space Hog
Video is a bandwidth hog. One HD video stream can consume up to 20Mbps of bandwidth. So if five people are trying to stream a movie, it means that they are taking up 100Mbps of your network. This may not seem like a ton of traffic, but depending on the distribution of these users on your network, and the number of users serviced, bandwidth availability can certainly become an issue. And remember, the amount of video on your network is increasing all the time.

Overly Sensitive
Video is also very sensitive to latency, jitter and packet loss, even more so than voice, which we covered in this blog post. These sensitive protocols demand that your network is performing at its peak level to ensure that these issues are minimized. As video becomes more common on the network, performance demands will continue to grow and become harder to reach. Specific metrics and demands of latency, jitter, and packet loss are described in more detail below with this video segment and graph:

High-Maintenance
Due to the high performance demands of video, it is typically tagged for the highest QoS delivery as I mentioned earlier. However, as video traffic starts exceeding data traffic, enterprises will need to maintain different quality of service between users or video types since it is self-defeating for most of the traffic on a network to have the highest QoS tagging.

As video continues to grow, or as some might say invade, your enterprise network, it is more important than ever to plan and design your network to carry video. And just as the teenage years pass, the video phase will also pass in time, allowing networks to again hum along in a predictable pattern. That is, until the next disruptive technology come along! In next week’s blog, we’ll be providing some best practices on designing, monitoring, and managing your network to help that teenager grow up.