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Network visibility has never been more important to the success of a business, regardless of industry. Addressing increasingly demanding business requirements has led to highly complex IT environments. And unfortunately, blind spots have become more common as a result.
Any blind spots in your network can lead to costly consequences from both performance monitoring and security perspectives. If a blind spot leads to system outages, you could be faced with, on average, $300,000 per hour of downtime. And if blind spots open the door for attackers to launch a data breach, the global average cost of a data breach is $3.92 million.
Eliminating these blind spots starts with maximizing network visibility. But what do we really mean by network visibility and how do you achieve it?
When you talk to people about network visibility, there’s a tendency to jump straight into the technical details. Too often, the conversation starts with the tools involved in network visibility. And while that’s certainly an important factor, the basic definition of network visibility is broader than that.
The term “network visibility” encompasses anything and everything involved in tracking 100% of the data packets that flow into and out of your network. It starts with data capture and carries through to packet aggregation, distribution, and delivery.
It’s important to note that network visibility isn’t a passive function that drives value in and of itself. Rather, it’s a basic requirement that provides the information necessary to achieve multiple networking goals.
Network visibility is far from a new topic. It’s been top of mind since the earliest days of networking. However, the difference between tracking packets on a live wire with a single firewall and maintaining total visibility into massive volumes of data packets on today’s complex networks is significant.
Now, it takes a much more conscious effort to maximize network visibility and some teams don’t see the value in investing resources beyond connecting security and monitoring tools to SPAN ports.
While SPAN ports may have once been effective enough for network visibility, they’re no longer capable of keeping pace with network demands. When you go beyond SPAN ports to address network visibility, you unlock a number of benefits, including:
Network visibility is a long-term investment because it delivers returns continuously as your business evolves. No matter what new systems or tools you put in place to support business needs, having the right network visibility foundation will make it easier to transition to new processes smoothly.
This all leaves us with one key question—how do you go about maximizing network visibility by guaranteeing 100% packet capture? It all starts with a network TAP.
Network TAPs (Test Access Points) are the fundamental building block of all network visibility initiatives. Simply put, a TAP is a hardware device that allows network traffic to flow from ports A to B, and B to A without interruption, and creates an exact copy of both sides of the traffic flow, continuously, 24/7, without compromising network integrity. The duplicate copy can be used for monitoring, security, or analysis.
If this sounds similar to what you can do with a SPAN port, it’s important to take a step back and recognize the key differences. According to Cisco, “The switch treats SPAN data with a lower priority than to-port data…the best strategy is to make decisions based on the traffic levels of the configuration and when in doubt to use the SPAN port only for relatively low throughput situations.” In other words, if you’re still using SPAN ports, you don’t have 100% network visibility.
When you tap all critical links, you guarantee any-time access to those points in your network in the case of a security breach or when troubleshooting is needed. But not all TAPs are created equal.
If you want to maximize network visibility and guarantee 100% data capture within your unique network, your first step should be determining which TAPs are right for you.
Looking to add a visibility solution to your next 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!
Chris Bihary has been in the network performance industry for over 20 years. Bihary has established collaborative partnerships with technology companies to complement product performance through the integration of network test access points. Previously, Bihary was Managing Partner at Network Critical.