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A network TAP (short for Test Access Point) is a hardware device that is placed on a network segment, allowing you to access and monitor network traffic. Network taps allow traffic to flow without interruption or interference. As long as they are connected, a network taps will create an exact copy of both sides of traffic on the network. All monitoring and analysis tools that are connected to the tap will receive exact copies of the network traffic.
A network TAP is placed in between two network segments. For example, a network tap can connect two devices (e.g. switch and router) by inserting the “in-line” between the switch and router. This deployment is often referred to as “out of band.” Data will continue to flow uninterrupted between the two network devices in both directions as it normally would. A network tap copies transmit signals from each device and sends them to separate monitoring ports. This way, every packet is copied and monitoring and analysis tools can see 100% full duplex traffic without any chance they will be oversubscribed. Traffic on the network is not affected, and there is no additional burden placed on the network.
Network taps are a low cost and exceptionally reliable way to provide data non-intrusively to network tools. They provide secure 24/7 point of access for monitoring and analysis. And, unlike many in-line monitoring appliances, taps are fail-safe and will not be a single point of failure.
Because network taps are connected between network segments, they allow you to immediately connect troubleshooting and analysis tools to that segment without network interruption or service windows.
They allow you to retain use of ports on network switches that are often used for analysis purposes. Additionally, taps provide 100% visibility into all seven layers of network traffic. They can be used to provide the physical layer traffic to other aggregation devices, complementing the collection from a SPAN or Port Mirror captures for improved analysis.
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