Big Switch offers analytics, recording with packet broker

Big Switch has added value to its network packet broker with the introduction of analytics and recording nodes. The new products are sold as add-ons to Big Monitoring Fabric.

Big Switch Networks, a supplier of software-based networking technology for white boxes, has introduced optional recording and analytics nodes for its network packet broker Big Monitoring Fabric, or Big Mon.

The Big Mon Recorder and Big Mon Analytics nodes, unveiled this week, are x86 appliances that attach to the Big Mon packet broker. Big Mon aggregates, filters and distributes data feeds from white box switches to customers' third-party network monitoring and security tools.

"[Nodes] is a way for Big Switch to sell up the value stack and go beyond just visibility by providing packet capture repository and analytics to help manage data and isolate issues faster," said Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, based in Milford, Mass.

The Recorder Node provides packet recording, querying and replay, while the Analytics Node offers security and performance analytics with configurable, historical time-series dashboards. Network operators manage the nodes through the Big Mon controller, which is also equipped to discover and connect to the applications.

An operator responsible for Recorder Node would use the controller to create a policy that directs traffic from a particular interface or IP address to the node, which has up to 160 terabytes of storage. The technology separates information on defined events from other data, which is overwritten when the total amount exceeds storage capacity.

Packet recording is not new. Other vendors providing the technology include SolarWinds, Riverbed Technology and Endace, Laliberte said.

Big Mon Analytics Node

The Analytics Node acts as a collector for NetFlow and sFlow packets to provide intelligence into tunneled or encapsulated traffic. The ability to comb through traffic lets network administrators perform tasks like examining applications in use and tracking down a noncompliant operating system.

Administrators also can get a general latency profile of a production network and isolate a specific device to determine its latency, protocols used and user information. Other features include the ability to track down whether traffic is going out of the environment, which can indicate a misconfigured device or a security risk.

Big Mon competes with packet brokers from Gigamon, Ixia and Apcon.

Big Switch also sells software for building a data center switching fabric from the network operating system the vendor provides for white box switches. The Big Cloud Fabric (BCF) interoperates with OpenStack, a platform for building cloud computing environments, and VMware's server virtualization vSphere suite.

Big Switch offers basic versions of BCF and Big Mon that companies can download for free to evaluate and test.

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