Best Practices for Choosing a Network Packet Broker

Best practices for choosing a network packet broker

Today’s enterprises are always looking for the best return on investment when considering a network packet broker (NPB). A Network Packet Broker (NPB) is a device that sits between the network devices and tools, facilitating the distribution, filtering, and manipulation of network traffic. Because network packet brokers help to eliminate blind spots, reduce network congestion and help secure one’s network, it’s no surprise that NPBs have become critical components of network infrastructure.  Many packet brokers offer valuable features, but the question remains: which vendor will provide you with the most performance, full functionality, and reliability while remaining cost effective?

Troubleshooting and resolving issues in a network can cost organizations millions of dollars a year. In fact, according to IHS, downtime is costing North American organizations $700 billion a year. After accounting for lost employee productivity, lost revenue, and the actual costs to fix the downtime issue, the financial repercussions can be severe. This is a common challenge facing enterprises today.

Network packet brokers are like the missing piece of the puzzle in that they help service providers optimize their visibility architecture while maximizing the return on their investment. Some common NPB features that are used are: de-duplication, aggregation, header stripping, load balancing and automation just to name a few. However, not all packet brokers are created equal. Before you select the right NBP for your network, there are several considerations to be made.

How cPacket reduces total cost of ownership with an efficient packet broker architecture

When choosing an NPB that is right for your network, it’s important to pick a device that performs all the functions that your network architecture requires. It’s also important to understand which functions you don’t need to eliminate any unnecessary costs. If we look at Figure 1 below, you will see a typical core-spine-leaf topology found in a data center which is tapped and connected to cPacket’s monitoring network devices. A monitoring network is a system that monitors and manages the performance of network devices, servers, applications, and other IT infrastructure components. As seen in Figure 1, cVu devices can be used throughout the network to provide the necessary visibility and these devices come in multiple form factors which can scale from 1Gbps to 100Gbps. The core of a data center is characteristically a 40Gbps network, but because 100Gbps network speeds are quickly becoming the norm, it’s no surprise that many customers are migrating to these faster speeds.

To keep pace with the growing volume of data and faster speeds, cPacket has added two new devices to the Cx series: Cx 8100 (8 x 100Gbps) and Cx 4100 (4 x 100Gbps). Both offer customers the high-level performance and scalability needed for their networks.

If we look at the spine layer switches, cPacket’s cVu 3240NG and cVu 2440NG are suited to monitor at these speeds which are typically 40Gbps. However, as you move down the topology, speeds become lower and switches at the leaf are mostly 10Gbps. In this instance, customers are more likely to deploy cVu400NG or cVu 560NG devices.

Network Packet Broker

Figure 1: Data center topology with an efficient packet broker architecture

It’s no surprise that hardware costs can be very high when running an IT department. In an attempt to reduce these costs, companies are turning to virtualization because of its cost advantages, elimination of hardware repair and maintenance as well as its flexibility. When cPacket devices are deployed as VM’s and Docker containers, they will seamlessly integrate with the rest of the hardware-based devices in the cVu family, allowing for simplified management. Once the data center switches are efficiently tapped and network traffic is fed to the packet brokers, the remainder of the architecture becomes flexible and responsive to any troubleshooting and monitoring needs.

Clearly, a network packet broker is a key building block for your network visibility architecture.  You rely on it to deliver the performance and accurate monitoring without any packet loss.  cPacket’s solutions are designed for today’s enterprises looking to simplify network management, optimize performance and reduce costs.