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How to Handle Limited Ports on Ethernet Switches

How to Handle Limited Ports on Ethernet Switches

Jun 19 2014

When a customer approached Datacom Systems looking for a reliable way to capture session traffic and direct that traffic to specific monitoring ports, it was time to develop a custom solution.

Directing critical session traffic to specific ports demands a best practice solution. For a customer looking to record activity across multiple network links, mirror ports are commonly used. However, mirror ports do not provide the line-speed filtering and complex packet steering that a Network Packet Broker can.

Ethernet switches provide a limited number of mirror ports, which are often reserved for emergency use, not long term monitoring. A solution was necessary to save these mirror port resources, and not use additional physical ports on the Ethernet switch.

To maintain strict reliability standards, the solution involved separating the collection and distribution of this critical data by using network taps to capture the information in line, and network packet brokers (NPB) to filter and distribute the data to the appropriate monitoring ports.

In this layout, the four separate network links were each assigned a tap, allowing traffic to flow through the network while also making a copy of the network packets and eliminating the need to use an Ethernet switch port. The taps provide a simple, reliable method to capture data.

The second part of the solution involved segmented analysis. One of the most important requirements for this customer was to designate unique analysis devices to each TCP session. To accomplish this, the four tapped network links, each carrying multiple TCP sessions, were shared with a Network Packet Broker. The NPB then filtered and split the data and delivered it to four corresponding analysis devices without cross-contamination.

As an independent manufacturer of TAP and SPAN devices as well as Network Packet Brokers, Datacom is able to work one-on-one with customers to build the right solutions to fit their needs. Contact us to learn how we can help solve your next network access challenge.