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How Ease of Use Impacts Network Visibility

A fundamental question for network visibility solutions almost always involves the following, “How can you improve the short term and long-term operating costs for your monitoring solution?” Fortunately for all of us, Tim The OldCommGuy™ O’Neil, has shared the answer in one of his whitepapers – The Technical and Financial Impact of Ease of Use on Network Visibility Solutions.

The answer to the question above involves two fundamental steps:

· Update your monitoring processes to the best technology

· Optimize your solutions to take full advantage of ease-of-use functionality

When it comes to taking advantage of the best technology, some examples include taps and network packet brokers (NPBs). For instance, taps are a better choice for data collection than SPAN ports. Tim covers the reasons in detail in his white paper, but the basic gist is that taps make a complete copy of all the data (good and bad). When using SPAN ports, it is literally hard to tell exactly what you have. Data packets could be missing for a multitude of reasons, and you won’t realize that the SPAN port didn’t provide important data.

In addition, you’ll want to add a network packet broker to optimize your filtering methodology and related filter programming costs. Your security and monitoring tools don’t need, and don’t want, to see EVERY packet. They just want the relevant packets as quickly as possible. Well-designed NPBs allow you to aggregate, deduplicate, filter, and regenerate the data you need (at line rates of 40, 100 and up to 400 Gbps) to send the right data to the right tool at the right time.

The second step is to optimize the ease-of-use benefit. Ease of use includes installation, training, and day to day programming complexity. According to Tim, using a graphical user interface (GUI), can cut your long-term operating costs by 75% or more. This is because a GUI creates higher productivity than a command line interface (CLI) or a menu driven interface.

Another important question is whether the device be operated effectively by most personnel without training and retraining? “Usability” is the key factor that allows organizations to use network equipment with ease; and still be assured that they are getting a true, reliable, and repeatable view of their traffic and network operations.

The combination of both steps above will allow you to effectively reduce your TCO and reuse the extra money to solve additional needs that you have. Better data is critical to capturing security threats and reducing troubleshooting / forensic analysis costs.

Check out Tim’s white paper for more information on these



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