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If you remember in my post on Breakout TAPs, there was a small problem when your network analyzer or monitoring device only had one network interface card (NIC). You could only look at the traffic going from ports A to B or the traffic going from ports B to A, but not at both streams of network traffic at the same time. Also, a breakout TAP can only send network traffic to a single analyzer or monitoring device.
Now, breakout network TAPs are a great solution for many situations, but nevertheless, engineers love solving problems – so they set out add more functionality by developing data aggregation TAPs.
With a simple, full duplex link (shown above) between a network router and a network switch:
Figure 2 (below) shows how the network traffic will flow between the two end devices and the monitoring ports. The monitor ports C and D will each receive all of the traffic on the link. The benefit is that now you can use an analyzer that has only one NIC and get to see all the traffic on the link. Another benefit is that all the traffic can be sent out to another monitoring tool, like a the Flowmon APM or DDoS appliances.
There is one area of caution when you aggregate the traffic on a full duplex link, and that is the possible oversubscription of the monitor port. For example, if the link is a 1G link, then there is a possibility that each side of the link (send and receive) could have up to 1G of traffic. When you aggregate the traffic, you could effectively have up to 2G of traffic going out to the monitor port. Whenever you are considering using aggregating network TAPs, make sure the link is not carrying heavy traffic. If oversubscribing is a possibility, then combine filtering with aggregation.
The Aggregating mode of a TAP maintains the same safety feature as the Breakout mode. If the TAP were to lose power for any reason, the link will continue to flow with minimum interruption based on IEEE Standards (Figure 3). If the media is fiber or copper at 10/100Mbps, there is no interruption.
For copper Gigabit interfaces, it is important to look for one with failsafe circuitry that meets data center standards. For instance, Garland’s fail-safe relay circuitry is built into our Gigabit network TAPs – if power is lost the relay circuitry will fail-close in less than 8 milliseconds providing a connection between the network elements. This ensures that traffic can continuously flow in the event of a power failure.
The most reliable method is to deploy all your networks TAPs via a rack outfitted with dual Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS).
Garland Technology's, The 101 Series is an educational series on how network TAPs work and the different functions they provide to the overall network design for access and visibility.
Looking to add a visibility solution to your nxt deployment, but not sure where to start? Join us for a brief network Design-IT consultation or demo. No obligation - it’s what we love to do!
Jerry Dillard leverages two decades in design and engineering to ensure maximum performance within today’s network environments. Dillard, as the inventor of the Bypass Network Test Access Point (TAP), has secured his legacy as he continues to provide network solutions for data centers worldwide.