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What is a Network Packet Broker?

Network visibility is a necessity in today’s digital era. More enterprises are integrating network monitoring solution in their IT infrastructure. And of course, every company has different requirements for their monitoring solutions. This poses some significant challenges for Network Engineers to keep managing and securing this dynamic environment. How do you ensure you get the visibility needed to manage your network performance? Well, each of these tools requires actionable data that they are designed to process. This data enables you to gain the visibility necessary to maintain your network performance.

Network bandwidth requirements are on the rise

There’s also another challenge enterprises must embrace, the network bandwidth. The need for 100G is rapidly ramping up. Is your infrastructure ready for the transition from 10G to 40G or 100G Ethernet? Yes, you could deploy more tools or increase the number of links to monitor your traffic. But it can be problematic and simply not practical. This will also increase your operational complexity and not cost-effective.


All these challenges are forcing enterprises to build on a growing ecosystem of monitoring tools to effectively secure and manage their networks. To ensure that demand is met for visibility, the only solution is to build an efficient network architecture that can also cope with the increasing size and speed of data traversing into your network infrastructure, which will significantly reduce the overhead, complexity and costs. This will only be accomplished by deploying Network Packet Brokers (NPB). NPBs are high-end versatile solutions that provide you the power and flexibility of network traffic management. How do the NPBs work? In this series of articles you learn about the role of NPBs in your visibility architecture, understanding each of its advanced features, and how to choose the ones that are best suited for your networking needs.


A tool to empower tools

For those who are not familiar with the technology, NPBs are powerful devices that optimize the flow of traffic between TAP or SPAN connections and network monitoring, security and acceleration tools. NPBs are placed between the network infrastructure and tools layer. They receive data from multiple network links and deliver specific network traffic out to the right appliances across your network. This way, you ensure that the tools will only analyze data they need instead of keeping up with all the higher throughputs of unwanted data.

Let's have a look at 2 types of NPBs that are available on the market: 

The Basic Network Packet Brokers

In general, NPBs should have the core set of features that include the ability to aggregate traffic coming from multiple incoming links, filter specific network traffic and send actionable data to each of the connected tools and distribute traffic over multiple monitoring tools. The aggregation function of the NPBs allow traffic from multiple network sources to be combined to provide much improved visibility over your entire network.

The Next-Generation Network Packet Brokers (NGNPBs)

To accommodate the growing of all of the new technology, NPBs have evolved and became smarter. Additional extensive features were added to NGNPBs such as packet slicing, GTP IP filtering, ERSPAN tunneling & de-tunneling and packet deduplication, which will be discussed in detail in the next article. NGNPBs have a lot more important features that make your entire ecosystem more efficient and more effective. 


Evaluating your needs

Network architectures will constantly become more complex and distributed, so will the network speeds, volume of data and traffic. Understanding the role of NPBs, will allow you to create a flexible visibility architecture that meets the needs of your IT today and in the future. The capabilities of NPBs made it significantly easier to deploy and upgrade your tools. NPBs help you to scale out, offering a flexible starting point designed to be built around, scaled and adapted in your organization. This solution will greatly enhance the performance of your network monitoring and security tools and improve your return on investment. If you want to learn more, check out our wide range of XX-Series and X2 Series Network Packet Brokers.  


Interested in finding out which monitoring tools you should use? Then read this article.

Discover our XX and X2-Series Network Packet Brokers