Understanding the Technology Interdependencies

In the previous blog post we outlined the interdependencies between the three new technologies: IP Voice / VoLTE, high-speed transport pipes, and carrier network virtualization. These inter-relationships will make it difficult for the operator to gain confidence in rolling out each new technology, as well as challenging to pinpoint the source of problem areas. In this blog post we will detail a number of those interdependencies for further discussion.

What are the Interdependencies That Will Drive the Triple Challenge?

The below diagram shows the stages of a technology deployment and rollout, and denotes that whichever technology is used to start the process, resource constraints are experienced by the need to roll out the other two Triple Challenge technologies. Independent of the starting technology, the interdependencies and technology inter-relationships will cause the rollout of all three.

TC_3

Starting with the deployment of IP Voice / VoLTE
Deploying VoLTE leads to greater density 10GB, 40Gb or 100Gb transport pipe deployments
  • More data from packetized voice causes the need for greater bandwidth in order to guarantee dual bandwidth voice-RTP QoS
  • More data is driven into the core by the 2G to 4G/LTE RAN conversion which requires more bandwidth for enhanced LTE services
Deploying faster transmission pipes such as 40Gb or 100Gb leads to Carrier Network Virtualization
  • Removal of the final bottleneck: if the pipes are wide enough, the last bottleneck will now be the network elements (NEs) themselves
  • Do more while preserving existing CAPEX spend: Operators are able to go with “white box” and bare-aluminum solutions over single-use, non-upgradeable, dedicated, and often proprietary solutions
Deploying IP Voice / VoLTE leads to the deployment of Carrier Network Virtualization
  • New services will be brought out as virtual network functions (VNFs) on NFV-enabled networks. The ability to deploy a traditional upgrade on a legacy network may be short lived.
  • By virtualizing first, VoLTE could be deployed as part of a virtual EPC (vEPC) where a virtual IMS (vIMS) core could be deployed as a VNF.
Starting with the deployment of Carrier Network Virtualization
Deploying network virtualization leads to the deployment of IP Voice / VoLTE
  • Efficiencies can be experienced by collapsing multiple different service cores together
  • Carrier Network Virtualization allows cost reductions in the vEPC and new services to be deployed such as IP Voice / VoLTE
Deploying IP Voice / VoLTE leads to the greater density 10Gb, 40Gb or 100Gb transport pipe deployments
  • More data from packetized voice causes the need for greater bandwidth in order to guarantee dual bandwidth voice-RTP QoS
  • More data is driven in to the core by the 2G to 4G/LTE RAN conversion which requires more bandwidth for enhanced LTE services
Deploying Carrier Network Virtualization leads to greater density 10Gb, 40Gb or 100Gb transport pipe deployments
  • Virtualization of network elements with greater processing throughput pushes the bottleneck elsewhere
  • Now that compute and storage are elastic, the pipes have to be upgraded to deliver low latency, bandwidth contingent, transport and content delivery assurance, and be able to handle RTP service QoS
Starting with the deployment of greater density 10Gb, 40Gb or 100Gb transport pipes
Deploying greater density 10Gb, 40Gb or 100Gb transport pipes leads to the deployment of IP Voice / VoLTE
  • If the converged core is already running at increased speeds such as 40Gb or 100Gb, then the RAN coverage can be increased. Therefore, the 2G RAN is converted to VoLTE to enable the expansion of 4G/LTE data which produces more operator revenues
  • If 4G/LTE RAN is already running at increased speeds such as 40Gb or 100Gb and has available bandwidth, then IP Voice / VoLTE can be deployed. This allows for the re-farming of the 2G RAN to enable expansion of 4G/LTE data which produces more operator revenues
Deploying IP Voice / VoLTE leads to Carrier Network Virtualization
  • Reduced CAPEX spend by deploying a virtualized core, vIMS, instead of a traditional legacy IP Voice / VoLTE deployment
  • Virtualization will allow future ease of software upgrades, as well as ease of offering further enhanced or new software-defined services
Deploying greater density 10Gb, 40Gb or 100Gb transport pipe deployments leads to Carrier Network Virtualization
  • The cost of deploying wider transport pipes forces the move to virtualize to recover costs that would have been spent on single-use, often proprietary network switching or routing technologies. Use of SDN and NFV can save costs associated with routing and switching and allow the network to become more flexible
  • The ability to provide more efficient and elastic content farms and Big Data analysis is driven by high speed links
  • Elastic storage and compute are needed to power an operators future needs, even to offer cloud capabilities as a service to their residential and business subscribers/customers
  • In order to overcome subscriber bandwidth issues at the network edge, virtualized services are needed such as video transcoding, bandwidth treatments on-the-fly, and service treatments on-the-fly such as “throttling as a VNF”

How Will the Interdependencies Cause Network and Service-Related Issues? 

In the previous section we have demonstrated the interdependencies between the three new Triple Challenge technologies. Here we will explain the unique capabilities of a Unified Visibility Fabric™ architecture (UVFa) and how deploying one can bring a new insight to modern monitoring: understanding the inter-related deployment dependencies via cross-silo monitoring, allowing you to find the “needle in a haystack” faster, and oftentimes to vastly reduce the size of the haystack altogether.

In Order to Correctly Monitor the New Technologies, It Is Important to Understand What Is Needed and Why

  • IP Voice (VoLTE/VoIMS/VoWiFi) being based on RTP is a very sensitive service, complete visibility from edge to core is needed to debug complex transport/service layer inter-related issues
  • Bonded 10Gb, 40Gb, and 100Gb transport needs advanced processing across the fabric. Edge filtering and data optimization get the most out of the attached tools. Specifically today there are no tools capable of connecting to, nor monitoring 100Gb transport pipes
  • Carrier Network virtualization is a complex set of new technologies with no built-in monitoring capability. To deploy SDN or NFV is to remove the visibility from a large part of your existing network

Specific Issues Related to IP Voice/VoLTE

  • Effects of bursty traffic types and other RTP traffic types in the same transport pipe
  • Effects of server virtualization, network function or network element virtualization on RTP-based voice traffic
  • The effects of dynamic loading on RAN backhaul and RTP traffic QoS requirements

Specific issues related to 40Gb & 100Gb transport pipes

  • Effects of virtual servers being provisioned and de-provisioned, causing unpredictable traffic bursts
  • VNF provisioning overhead and monitoring needs
  • Multiple standards and changing technology associated with 100Gb transport pipes

Specific issues related to Carrier Network Virtualization

  • IP Voice/RTP QoS requirement overhead and associated transport pipe related issues
  • Effects of huge traffic draw on services and virtualization traffic-induced burstyness
  • Effects of vMotion and effects on other VNF’s / SDN controller decisions resulting in knock on traffic delay / jitter / latency or more generic throughput issues such as traffic fragmentation

Conclusion

There are clear interdependencies which will emerge when trying to deploy the Triple Challenge technologies. Monitoring can play a great part in de-risking the deployment of these three new technologies, and will allow service providers to fully understand these technology inter-relationships before deployment such that when trouble shooting, it is easier to find the real needle in the correct haystack.

Andy HuckridgeBy: Andy Huckridge, Director of Service Provider Solutions

Hello Telecom professional! Welcome to this extended series of blog posts that’ll take an in-depth look at the Triple Challenge of Network Transformation which operators are currently experiencing. We’ll examine how subscriber trends and market forces are pushing operators to transform their network – and the ensuing resource crunch that will occur. We’ll also take a look at how a Visibility Fabric can help to de-risk the deployment of several of these new technologies – avoiding the resource crunch and helping to de-risk the rollouts.

We started the conversation about the Triple Challenge of Network Transformation back in September, since then we’ve seen several industry news stories that validate our thought leadership & commentary – related to how the Triple Challenge is affecting the Service Provider’s ability to deploy new technology in an agile and expeditious manner. As we look forward to 2015 and Mobile World Congress our approach to solving this dilemma is now more relevant than ever. So, let’s get started with a video interview as an introduction that’ll quickly explain what the Triple Challenge of Network Transformation is all about.

And the first post in this series, an updated introductory blog entry…

Operators have always faced a slew of new technologies to roll out, but this time around there’s a difference. In the past, operators have been able to deploy new technologies in a series, one after another. Due to the interdependency of current new technologies, they can no longer be deployed in a series. The deployment of one new forces the deployment of another new technology and so on until all three new technologies are deployed. This series of blog entries will explain the three technologies and their interdependencies – highlighting why it is bad from the operator’s perspective and exploring ways to overcome the resource crunch that will become evident.

TC_1

What is the Triple Challenge and why will it occur?

The Triple Challenge defines the operator’s predicament to be able to deploy next-generation technologies, which are made up of:

  • IP Voice
    • VoLTE – IR.92 primarily for Mobile carriers; PLMN
    • VoWiFi – applicable to Mobile, Fixed or Cable providers; PSTN, PLMN & MSO
    • VoIMS – as the underlying technology to all modern day IP Voice implementations
  • High Speed Transport Pipes
    • Multiple bonded 10Gb
    • 40Gb
    • 100Gb
  • Carrier Network Virtualization

The operator is faced with a number of decisions to make:

  • Virtualize the core first, then deploy VoLTE as a virtualized network function OR deploy VoLTE as a function on their traditional network since the network is already in place?
  • Upgrade the core beforehand due to worries about DiffServ, MPLS transmission or QoS issues in general OR wait until the bandwidth requirements placed upon the 4G/LTE RAN force the move of voice services from the existing circuit switched 2G RAN?
  • Upgrade core routers in anticipation of rising RAN traffic OR virtualize the core routing network elements first?

It appears that there is no correct answer to whether the horse or the cart goes first. With this level of uncertainty and all-encompassing network transformation, there is only one constant – the need to be able to monitor the new technologies completely and comprehensively. The operator be able to make sure the network changes involved are working in the way that the network equipment manufacturer has promised during the design phase and are satisfying expectations when turned up and deployed. It is said that the person who is wrong is the person who can’t prove they are right, therefore monitoring of packets-in-motion greatly helps to add to the legitimacy required in the conversation between the operator and the NEM when deployments of new technology don’t go to plan.

Here we see a graphical representation of the resource hit and how one technology causes the parallel roll out of the other “Triple Challenge” technologies:

TC_2This is due to the three technologies being interdependent; deploying any one will result in either of the other two technologies also being deployed. This often leaves the operator with too few resources to deploy the new Triple Challenge technologies. Monitoring can play a great part in de-risking the deployment of these three new technologies, and help find the correct needle in the correct haystack, whilst disqualifying many false positives.

Here is a video which accompanies this blog post.

Posted by: Andy Huckridge | October 16, 2012

Gigamon GigaVUE H Series wins coveted 4 Diamonds award

Gigamon GigaVUE H Series wins coveted 4 Diamonds award

Monitoring and management tools are only as good as the traffic they can see, Gigamon says. What is believed to be the best location for connecting tools could change given the dynamic nature of the network. The GigaVUE H Series sends any packet to any destination, providing the appropriate network traffic to the monitoring tools.

The company’s Flow Mapping packet distribution technology aggregates, replicates and filters traffic flows, which allows for dynamic connectivity for 40G, 10G, or 1G monitoring, compliance and archival tools. These include intrusion detection systems, protocol analyzers, deep packet inspection analyzers, VoIP and MPEG Video Analyzers, application and network performance monitors, and stream-to-disk data recorders.

Fabric nodes acquire and map traffic from multiple data sources under one of the following scenarios: filtering and mapping (any-to-any), aggregation (many-to-any), multicasting (any-to-many). In other words, once data is acquired from multiple mirror/SPAN ports or TAPs, it can be multicast to multiple tools, aggregated to a few consolidated tools, and filtered or divided across many instances of the same tools.

The Diamonds judges noted that backbone visibility is “crucial to allow operators to make the best decisions toward configuration edits and upgrades,” and applauded the Flow Mapping technology as being vital for collecting the “analytics needed to adjust designs quickly and plan long-term solutions.”

Two models are available, the GigaVUE-HD8 with a 14U footprint and eight line card slots, and the GigaVUE-HD4 with a 5U footprint and four line card slots.

www.gigamon.com

See them at Cable-Tec EXPO, Booth 511

Posted by: Andy Huckridge | September 19, 2012

Gigamon Hires Andy Huckridge as Director of Service Provider Marketing

 

Telecom Industry Executive Extends Service Provider Expertise at Gigamon

MILPITAS, Calif., Sept. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Gigamon®, a leading provider of Traffic Visibility Networking solutions, announced today that industry expert Andy Huckridge has joined the company as Director of Service Provider Marketing. Huckridge will spearhead strategy and marketing for Gigamon’s entire spectrum of Service Provider Solutions that provide intelligent visibility across the infrastructure deployed by cable networks, telecom service providers and mobile carriers across the globe.GigaVUE-HD8

“We are pleased that Andy has joined Gigamon,” said CEO and Co-Founder Ted Ho. “Andy’s industry expertise will prove very valuable to the company as we look to strengthen our relationships with the world’s leading service providers. Gigamon has always been ahead of the curve in offering the most effective suite of network visibility solutions to the telecom industry, and Andy is the ideal person to take us to the next level.”

Huckridge joins Gigamon from VSS Monitoring, where he was Senior Director of Telecom Strategy and Marketing. Previously, he was Director of Marketing at Spirent Communications, and Director of Product Management at 8×8 Inc.

“In just the last month, we have seen a significant move to 4G/LTE compliant mobile devices, which will increase the amount of consumer traffic being driven onto and across mobile networks. Meanwhile, service providers are figuring out ways to measure and monitor this influx of user data,” said Huckridge. “Gigamon is uniquely positioned to deliver service providers the critical technology required to proactively monitor and make sense of their traffic flows while maximizing network operational efficiency. I’m thrilled to join the team and help the company continue to lead the Traffic Visibility Networking market.”

About Gigamon
Gigamon provides an intelligent Traffic Visibility Fabric for enterprises, data centers and service providers around the globe. Our technology empowers infrastructure architects, managers and operators with pervasive visibility and control of traffic across both physical and virtual environments without affecting the performance or stability of the production network. Through patented technologies and centralized management, the Gigamon GigaVUE portfolio of high availability and high density products intelligently delivers the appropriate network traffic to security, monitoring or management systems. With over eight years experience designing and building intelligent traffic visibility products in the US, Gigamon solutions are deployed globally across vertical markets including 53 of the Fortune 100 and many government and federal agencies. www.gigamon.com

SOURCE Gigamon
PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1nMf0)

Posted by: Andy Huckridge | July 31, 2012

Driving Efficiency in Monitoring

by Carl Weinschenk, IT Business Edge
Jul 25, 2012 12:16:04 PM

Carl Weinschenk spoke to Andy Huckridge, the senior director of telecom strategy and marketing for VSS Monitoring.

Ensuring that networks are operating at peak efficiency has never been more important or more complex. A new layer of management — network packet brokers — is emerging to drive efficiencies in monitoring. Andy Huckridge tells IT Business Edge blogger Carl Weinschenk that the approach enables packets to be sent only to the appropriate tools and that measurements over the entire path — not just one network within that path — can be made.

Weinschenk: What does your industry segment offer?
Huckridge: Operators have reduced income from services and have users that are using more and more bandwidth, so they are looking for ways to economize and also offer services customers want in terms of bandwidth, video and data. It all comes down to how do I as an operator … reduce expenses and keep the network to the level that subscribers want?

What we do is provide a new layer called the network packet brokering layer. It saves a vast amount of money on tool expenses and allows tools on networks, whether they are security tools or monitoring tools, to see a much larger network area including many different network links and segments.

Weinschenk: What’s the background?
Huckridge: This is the third evolution of products and services in this area. First of all there were taps — test access points — that are ubiquitous today. Then there were aggregators and then network packet brokers. There still are very few network access brokers.

In April this year, Gartner, ESG and Frost & Sullivan’s Stratecast all named it the network packet broker segment. This is a large swatch of the market. An NPB, which was defined in April, is a new name being made up to cover a market area, which is growing quite rapidly. An NPB may be more familiar by the name of a monitoring switch or a fabric switch or fabric layer or a distributed traffic capture system.

Weinschenk: But what is it?
Huckridge: It is a piece of hardware that looks and smells like a switch or a router and sits between multiple different network links. It has a bunch of ports on the front and a bunch of ports on back that you connect tools … It allows one tool to see many different network segments, which overcomes a previous problem, which was the need to connect one tool to each network segment.

What these tools do … there are about 75 vendors … is provide a simple way to describe things. Whether it is VoIP, IPTV or VOD, carriers need a way to understand how the services are carried across their networks. These tools … some are software, some are hardware and software — look at different types of traffic and understand how well it is being carried and where there might be problems on that specific network segment. The underlying thing that these tools measure is delay, jitter, latency and dropped packets. It measures these things and interprets how those measures affect specific types of traffic.

Weinschenk: So the difference is that these tools take a look at the entire network. Is that right?
Huckridge: The difference here is, first of all, now you have a way to connect and reduce the number of tools used to measure many different network segments. This provides visibility to tools across entire networks. The second thing is network packet broker layer — which is a new layer — allows providers to realize great efficiencies in the tool layer because only certain types of traffic are sent to certain types of tools.

For example, if you had to pick up some lumber, you would take a truck not a car. What we would do is if we need to look at VoIP we would filter only that type of traffic to that tool. Now the tool doesn’t need to use cycles to look at things it doesn’t understand or have any interest in seeing.

If an operator has multiple different network segments or an agreement with other carriers such as an SLA, he can monitor that traffic as it passes from one network to another. He can guarantee the correct transit of that type of traffic, and therefore [prove the network is] observing the SLA. What we do in a common pipe with many different types of dissimilar traffic is use part of the intelligence available to take packets and filter them and direct certain packets to certain types of tools.

Weinschenk: Do you look at MPLS headers and similar identifiers?
Huckridge: We do look at MPLS headers and other types of encapsulation headers. We can also take a look inside packets at layer 4 to 7 to see what kind of packet is there. Generally, we tend to have ways to recognize the traffic without having to look that deeply into the packet.

Weinschenk: Is it in-line?
Huckridge: It is not necessarily an in-line system. We have some in-line products, but those are mostly security tools. That’s a slightly different discussion than monitoring.

Weinschenk: So does this have a cost in terms of network speed?
Huckridge: Whenever you touch the network you affect it. Don’t drop packets. We are able to split any traffic across any single or multiple tools so tools can effectively process at line rate.  The second thing when we touch the network … a little delay is added. We mitigate that by using a port stamp and time stamp on the traffic we monitor. Our pass-through delays are negligible. We don’t look like anything more or less than a regular switch to pass through traffic. Any sort of delay is negligible. The traffic we do affect in terms of filtering or processing, we port and time stamp so we know when it arrives. That information is preserved for when that packet is processed.

Weinschenk: What is the bottom line impact?
Huckridge: We save network operators a lot of money in terms of the customer equipment needed to monitor their network. We say we can reduce capex by 80 percent and opex by 50 percent on the tools that are needed to test and monitor.

Weinschenk: Is this a quality of experience tool, or is it geared to quality of service — which can lead to improvements in QoE?
Huckridge: It’s the latter. It is positively impacting the QoS so that it improves the QoE. However, bear in mind that we provide packets of data to the tools and it’s really the function of the tools to improve things. We provide the information in tools; we are the enabling part. We allow the tools to have a better view of what is going on in network so they can better understand the QoS issues so they can provide better QoE. We believe that helping the industry adopt the network packet broker layer will allow savings on capex and opex and also create a better managed network with greater uptime.

VSS Press release

VSS Monitoring Introduces New Network Packet Brokers to Enable Complete Network-wide Visibility and Performance.

New vBroker™ Appliances Provide Industry-leading Capacity and Flexibility; vMesh™ and vMC™ Technologies Expand System-level Scalability and Manageability to 10,000+ Ports

Wireless Week

New VSS Solutions Increase Network Visibility

VSS Monitoring is aiming to make more of the network visible with a suite of network appliances and software that use a new network layer. The company said the tools in the new vBroker product family use a “fabric-system approach” to monitor the network.

Network World

VSS looks to broker a faster network with line of optimization gear

A lineup of “network packet brokering” gear from VSS Monitoring could provide a new way to consolidate and manage the growing number of network appliances used by modern businesses.

Broadband Wireless News / Converge Network Digest

VSS Monitoring Scales its Packet Broker for Network-wide Visibility

VSS Monitoring introduced a new suite of network packet brokers (NPBs) that leverage a unique fabric-system approach for interconnecting network monitoring and security systems. The new VSS Monitoring product family, called vBroker, delivers network-wide link-layer visibility and access to a broad set of network monitoring and security systems. This significantly reduces the capital costs of ensuring link visibility and analysis tool access across the network.

Telecom Ramblings

VSS Monitoring Introduces New Network Packet Brokers to Enable Complete Network-wide Visibility and Performance

New vBroker™ Appliances Provide Industry-leading Capacity and Flexibility; vMesh™ and vMC™ Technologies Expand System-level Scalability and Manageability to 10,000+ Ports

TMC

VSS Monitoring Launches vBrokers to Engage Modern Networking Challenges

As the network TAP space quickly transitions and begins to be commonly referred to as network packet broker by Gartner and other industry pundits, Silicon Valley-based VSS Monitoring remains at the forefront of innovation introduced to this increasingly popular industry.

Computer World

VSS looks to broker a faster network with line of optimization gear

New vBroker™ Appliances Provide Industry-leading Capacity and Flexibility; vMesh™ and vMC™ Technologies Expand System-level Scalability and Manageability to 10,000+ Ports

IT Business Edge

Driving Efficiency in Monitoring

Carl Weinschenk spoke to Andy Huckridge, the senior director of telecom strategy and marketing for VSS Monitoring. Ensuring that networks are operating at peak efficiency has never been more important or more complex. A new layer of management — network packet brokers — is emerging to drive efficiencies in monitoring. Andy Huckridge tells IT Business Edge blogger Carl Weinschenk that the approach enables packets to be sent only to the appropriate tools and that measurements over the entire path — not just one network within that path — can be made.

CIO Magazine

VSS looks to broker a faster network with line of optimization gear

A lineup of “network packet brokering” gear from VSS Monitoring could provide a new way to consolidate and manage the growing number of network appliances used by modern businesses.

Dark Reading

VSS Monitoring Introduces New Network Packet Brokers To Enable Complete Networkwide Visibility And Performance

vBroker appliances expand the capacity and interface flexibility of its packet broker solutions. SAN MATEO, Calif. – July 24, 2012 – VSS Monitoring, a leader in network packet brokers (NPBs), today introduced a new suite of NPB appliances and software capabilities which deliver the industry’s only fabric-system approach for enhancing global visibility and operational performance for network monitoring and security systems. The new VSS Monitoring product family, called vBroker™, enables customers to uniquely provide network-wide link-layer visibility and access to a broad set of network monitoring and security systems, making them significantly more efficient and yielding higher ROI. The growing number of monitoring and security systems required for today’s increasingly complex networks results in major provisioning and operational challenges for both enterprises and service providers, including limited network visibility, major capital costs due to deployment silos, and complex network upgrades that impact existing tool system speeds and capacities.

 

 

 

New vBroker™ Appliances Provide Industry-leading Capacity and Flexibility; vMesh™ and vMC™ Technologies Expand System-level Scalability and Manageability to 10,000+ Ports

Active Inline Tool Load Balancers: Protector Series

SAN MATEO, Calif. – July 24, 2012 – VSS Monitoring, a leader in network packet brokers (NPBs), today introduced a new suite of NPB appliances and software capabilities which deliver the industry’s only fabric-system approach for enhancing global visibility and operational performance for network monitoring and security systems.  The new VSS Monitoring product family, called vBroker™, enables customers to uniquely provide network-wide link-layer visibility and access to a broad set of network monitoring and security systems, making them significantly more efficient and yielding higher ROI.

The growing number of monitoring and security systems required for today’s increasingly complex networks results in major provisioning and operational challenges for both enterprises and service providers, including limited network visibility, major capital costs due to deployment silos, and complex network upgrades that impact existing tool system speeds and capacities.

“The market need for application-aware network packet broker solutions continues to expand due to ever-increasing network complexity and upgrade cycles of network capacity due to the pressure public and private cloud infrastructures place on the network,” said Jonah Kowall, Gartner research director.  “Network packet brokers make today’s increasing data stream manageable.  The placement of monitoring tools must be accomplished and tested easily in centralized locations, and NPBs enable better visibility and longevity of tool investments.”

To address the challenge of effectively operating tool systems in a rapidly evolving network environment, VSS Monitoring is expanding its unique fabric-system approach to NPBs, as well as launching new product innovations, to enable customers to achieve unparalleled network-wide visibility and data access across their LAN, WAN and Internet boundaries.  VSS has consistently provided the industry’s first system-level approach that enables customers to seamlessly connect, maintain link-layer visibility, and manage hundreds of packet brokers to form a brokering fabric system across multiple locations.

VSS Monitoring’s new vBroker™ 200 and vBroker™ 300 appliances expand the capacity and interface flexibility of its packet broker solutions while delivering the industry’s richest set of features, including traffic filtering/grooming and offloading of packet processing to increase tool system capacity and efficiency.  The vBroker 300 Series provides the industry’s highest capacity in a 1RU format – 560 Gbps – and up to 56 ports per appliance, while the vBroker 200 Series provides the flexibility of a modular chassis in compact 1RU or 2RU form factors.

Launching with VSS Monitoring’s packet broker appliances is vMesh™, a mesh architecture to seamlessly interconnect up to 256 VSS Monitoring NPBs and more than 10,000 ports, delivering the greatest scalability and link-layer visibility in the industry, whether across multiple data center racks, physical locations or entire geographies.  Customers gain unparalleled scalability to capture and broker packets across the largest networks to centralize monitoring and security systems, resulting in more efficient capital investments and fewer resources needed to manage them.  vMesh leverages VSS Monitoring’s proprietary vStack™ protocol to provide end-to-end visibility and data access – at the link-layer – across the entire network.  Unlike deploying large monolithic packet brokers, VSS Monitoring customers using vMesh benefit from a high-scale “pay-as-you-grow” deployment model.

Finally, adding to VSS Monitoring’s unique system-level capabilities is a new management console, called vMC.  Customers can now manage all or multiple VSS Monitoring NPBs using a single “pane-of-glass” to deploy, provision, and make drag-and-drop configuration changes for the full topology and perform bulk software updates.  Customers can also create advanced charts and graphs at a group or network-wide level.

“The market for NPBs is growing rapidly, due to significant demands for new network services and faster connectivity across the globe being placed on today’s networks,” said Martin Breslin, President of VSS Monitoring.  “Service providers and enterprises alike are challenged with ensuring continuous application performance, threat mitigation, and service availability, and are turning to us to support the latest set of network tool systems, including new security services that protect data, mitigate loss of control due to cloud and mobility initiatives, and ensure compliance.  With our unique systems approach, we enable customers to start small and scale to meet their growing needs.”

Availability and Pricing
Available later this quarter, pricing starts at $57,500 for the vBroker 300 Series and $27,500 for the vBroker 200 Series.  Pricing for vMesh starts at $800 per device.

About VSS Monitoring
VSS Monitoring is a world leader in network packet brokers (NPBs), providing a visionary, systems approach for optimizing and scaling the connectivity between network switching and the network intelligence universe of performance and security tools.  VSS Monitoring network packet brokers improve tool usage and efficiency, simplify IT operations, and greatly enhance ROI from tools.  For more information, visit www.vssmonitoring.com.

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VSS, vBroker, vMC and vMesh are trademarks or registered trademarks of VSS Monitoring, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Any other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

Company Earns 2012 Global Competitive Strategy Leadership Award in the Infrastructure Packet Broker Market from Frost & Sullivan

SAN MATEO, Calif. – July 23, 2012 – VSS Monitoring, a leader in network packet brokers (NPBs), today announced that it has earned the 2012 Global Competitive Strategy Leadership Award in the infrastructure packet broker market from Frost & Sullivan.  VSS Monitoring was recognized with this independent, third-party award due to its leading technical innovation, differentiated product offerings, extensive customer base, and unmatched ROI/cost savings.

“The Competitive Strategy Leadership Award is a prestigious recognition of VSS Monitoring’s accomplishments in network intelligence optimization,” stated the Frost & Sullivan report.  “With telecommunications carriers, service providers, large enterprises, and government agencies as its customers, VSS Monitoring is one of the leading companies in the infrastructure network packet broker market.  Enriched features, a high-class and innovative approach, and a strong focus toward collaborations and partnerships have helped the company create a competitive edge over others, signifying its strong position in the market.”

To support its evaluation of best practices across multiple business performance categories, Frost & Sullivan employs a customized Decision Support Matrix (DSM), an analytical tool that compares companies’ performance relative to each other with an integration of quantitative and qualitative metrics.  For the Competitive Strategy Leadership Award, the following criteria were used to benchmark companies’ performances against each of their key competitors:  Leverage of Competitive Intelligence, Execution of Competitive Strategy, Impact on Market Share, Competitive Brand Positioning (brand strength and unique market position), and Impact on Customer Satisfaction/Value.

For 2012, VSS Monitoring scored higher than any of the closest competitors in each of the key evaluation criteria, and its overall score was more than 20 percent better than the nearest competitor.

“In view of the increasing demand for maximizing network and application performance, VSS Monitoring has created a competitive advantage for itself through its strong customer base and comprehensive product offerings,” stated the report.  “The company is continuously creating an edge over the other market participants and securing a leadership position in the emerging infrastructure packet broker space, thereby garnering a significant market share.  The company demonstrates its best-in-class capability to provide a real-time view of packet streams, efficient data-filtering capability, and cost-effective solutions to its customers (with an annual cost reduction per user), unlike its competitors in the infrastructure packet broker market.”

“Receiving Frost & Sullivan’s Competitive Strategy Leadership Award validates the product and market leadership VSS Monitoring has earned, and how its network packet broker appliances are uniquely positioned to address the visibility, optimization and scalability of today’s complex networks,” said Rob Markovich, VSS Monitoring senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing.  “We continuously work with our service provider and enterprise customers in helping them maximize the security and performance of their networks, and it’s an honor for the results of those efforts to be recognized by Frost & Sullivan.”

About Frost & Sullivan
Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, enables clients to accelerate growth and achieve best-in-class positions in growth, innovation and leadership.  The company’s Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEO’s Growth Team with disciplined research and best-practice models to drive the generation, evaluation and implementation of powerful growth strategies.  Frost & Sullivan leverages 50 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from more than 40 offices on six continents.  To join our Growth Partnership, please visit http://www.frost.com.

About VSS Monitoring
VSS Monitoring is a world leader in network packet brokers (NPBs), providing a visionary, systems approach for optimizing and scaling the connectivity between network switching and the network intelligence universe of performance and security tools.  VSS Monitoring network packet brokers improve tool usage and efficiency, simplify IT operations, and greatly enhance ROI from tools.  For more information, visit www.vssmonitoring.com.

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VSS is a trademark or registered trademark of VSS Monitoring, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Any other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

Posted by: Andy Huckridge | July 19, 2012

Mobile Security market – beginning to trend up?

Protecting the Mobile Security Gateway (MSG)

For quite some time, the security market has not been the hottest – outside of Enterprise that is. Now though, there are certainly murmurs in the industry that things are changing and a new, Mobile Security Market is beginning to take off and will be worth $14.4B by 2017. Traditional security messages are mostly non-relevant for the Mobile security market and very often it’s not about securing the traffic – but more about securing the transport and the interfaces. Security in Mobile seems to be a different beast than Enterprise – right? Well not quite so fast…

With the newer open source operating systems like Android and several others on the horizon such as MeeGo, it’s much easier to create Malware and have dormant functionality inside the vast amounts of freely available apps – and the existing security company’s seem to have the beginnings of a grip on this area. But what about the new security threat of attacking the actual networks themselves? We saw the recent investment in Stoke by Samsung Venture’s mirror the Cisco acquisition of Starent in 2009 for $2.9 billion. Things are beginning to move in the right direction to protect the underlying networks themselves – to protect the UNI/NNI interfaces and to protect typically what are hundreds or thousands of backhaul links.

There’s even a new Mobile security conference

Mobile Network Security Strategies: New Threats, New Opportunities. Wednesday, November 28, 2012 | The Marriott Marquis | New York City, NY:

  • Operator attitudes toward different types of security threat and threat mitigation solutions
  • AT&T’s strategy for protecting the mobile network and AT&T’s mobile customers
  • Threat detection and mitigation in the mobile network
  • Analysis of next-gen mobile security gateways options
  • Securing the cloud for mobile operators
  • The role of the cloud in mobile network security
  • Threat Detection & Mitigation in the Mobile Network
  • Securing the Cloud for Mobile Operators
  • View on Next Gen Mobile Security Gateways
  • CTIA’s Cybersecurity Working Group (CSWG) – Protecting The Mobile Network

A new market is born

It’s very likely that a new market is forming here, or at least there will be an opportunity to sell existing solutions in to the new space, based on pre-existing functionality and benefits from products that already exist today. Let’s take a look at one such applicable product from VSS Monitoring – the Protector series and what it does to assist a MSG installation:

The Protector series of Inline Tool Load Balancers are intelligent, hardware-based traffic redirection devices designed to actively tap inline networks for forwarding to inline monitoring or security tools. Active Load Balancers are fundamental tools necessary for delivering complete total, network-wide visibility for inline network security and monitoring tools. Using these devices as part of a Network Packet Broker layer offers users a centralized view of the network. They provide intelligent traffic processing including packet and flow level control of what each monitor tool receives.

Protector provides a never before seen level of security, availability, and redundancy when deploying inline monitoring tools, as well as the flexibility of aggregation, speed conversion, load balancing, grooming, and powered-down state (using PowerSafe™). The active inline tool load balancers allow for 10M to 10 GigE network traffic redirection, traffic capture, active inline monitoring, and passive monitoring. When used for active inline monitoring, tool Bypass is also available. These hybrid devices offer maximum deployment flexibility.

Who provides the MSG and what does it do?

According to a Heavy Reading report entitled “Next-Generation Mobile Security Gateways for 3G & 4G Networks“, Huawei, Juniper and Cisco all have comprehensive solutions, but there are other innovative players out there such as Stoke (mentioned above). Cisco provides a few products, the 7600 WSG and the ASR 5000 Security Gateway based on the prior Starent product line. Stoke provides the SSX-3000 Session Exchange. Radisys are also getting in on the act with their LTE Security Gateway, which secures next generation mobile networks.

Conclusions

The mobile security market is growing in leaps-and-bounds. The existing vendors are becoming aware of shortcomings in how their products work – or don’t work. They need to be accepting of being placed in line with other security tools and to be able to work at line speeds as user data traffic expands to fit pipe throughput. Adding an in-line tool balancer in front of your Mobile network security tool makes sense for many good reasons:

  • Not least of which is that you now have an independent High-availability / High resiliency security solution – operators like that. Add in a way to extend the life of older, reduced speed security tools – and you get a pay off from day one
  • Second you have a way to overcome the issues with not being able to process traffic at line rate – just load balance and add another tool. Security tools rarely, if ever process at line-rates
  • Third, it makes maintenance, accessibility and the future need to add more and different security tools in series with the traffic much easier – you don’t need to take your network down anymore to add in a new functional element – just include it in series as your needs progress and the threat landscape develops. Create a new type of mobile security architecture – something VSS calls “Defence in layers“.
  • Fourth, for NEMs – speed up your operator PoC cycles by allowing the operator to benefit from the right environment whereby they can perform trials and acceptance tests on live traffic with a minimum of disruption to live service
Posted by: Andy Huckridge | July 18, 2012

Network Packet Brokers – Wikipedia page

Certainly describes the line of VSS Monitoring Network Packet Brokers which have been keenly adopted by carrier operators worldwide…

From here on taken directly from the Wikipedia page in its entirety…

Network Packet Brokers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Network Packet Brokers (NPBs) is the latest name coined by Gartner Analyst Deb Curtis and Jonah Kowall to define a set of hardware based appliances that help optimize the access and visibility of a variety of network monitoring, security and acceleration tools to traffic from one or many network links. A NPB or a system of NPBs provide a combination of functionality that may include aggregating monitored traffic from multiple links, traffic filtering and grooming, traffic regenerating and load balancing actionable traffic to multiple tools, pre-filtering traffic to offload tools, and directing traffic according to intelligent one-to-one and many-to-many port mappings.

Formerly they have been also called data monitoring switch, data access switch, matrix switches, traffic aggregator, net tool optimizer, and distributed traffic capture systems.

NPBs enable organizations to use their monitoring tools more efficiently, to centralize traffic monitoring and security functions and create centers of IT expertise, and to share tools and traffic access between groups. Most NPBs also provide functionality that helps extend the return on investment (ROI) on existing network monitoring, security and acceleration tool while also helping justify more expensive higher throughput monitoring and security tool purchases i.e. 10G and 40G.

In a nutshell, NPBs simplify deployment and management of security and monitoring tools while maximizing the ROI customers can achieve from these tools while helping reduce associated CAPEX, and the OPEX for managing and maintaining them.

Contents

Key Features and Functionality

NPBs broker network traffic from multiple Switched Port Analyzer (SPAN) ports from other network elements, and manipulate the traffic to allow more efficient use of Network Monitoring, Security, Analytics and Acceleration tools. The NPB product can also be deployed in line to reduce the latency reported to the attached network monitoring and security products while some even help increase the service availability of the inline tools via Layer 2 (session-aware) load balancing and tool health-check monitoring and fault tolerance capabilities.

Typical NPBs offer the following features: [1]

  • Many-to-many port mapping, with a configuration interface (graphical user interface [GUI] or command line interface [CLI]) for real-time adjustments of packet flow, including port mapping and paths.
  • Filtering of packet data based on the characteristics found in the packet headers, allowing filtering of Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Layers 2 through 4.
  • Packet slicing and deduplication, (and some offer even network packet fragment re-assembly) which allows a subset of the full packet data to be passed to the monitoring device, thus allowing monitoring tools to scale more efficiently.
  • Aggregating multiple packet stream inputs into one larger stream, for example five 1Gb links into a single 10Gb link. Alternately, the reverse also will work, where a single 10Gb link would be fed into multiple 1Gb connections. The destination would be a monitoring tool with the proper interface.
  • Distributing traffic load per device by sending it to different probes or appliances in order to scale the monitoring, or to provide redundancy in the monitoring technology.
  • Insertion of hardware-based time stamps that can be used by the monitoring tools to provide more accurate measurements. These hardware-based features can change the accuracy of the packet time stamp from milliseconds to microseconds, enabling more granular time measurement.
  • Some NPBs also offer hardware based port stamping at the time of packet capture which when combined with sub-millisecond time stamping can help maintain link-layer visibility and in turn help support attribution during network or application performance troubleshooting or incident analysis and response activities.
  • Few NPBs also offer load balancing across multiple tool ports, filtering on patterns in packet payloads, and converting media and data rates so tools can be used to monitor traffic from dissimilar links.

More advanced NPBs will also offer:

  • Deep packet inspection, allowing for the filtering and routing of packets based on data characteristics in the header or payload, and support for filtering on OSI Layers 2 through 7.
  • The ability to capture ingress port identification data, enabling unique identification of traffic from multiple ingress ports.
  • The capability to mask specific data in the packets, or slice off undesired (large video files, [RTP] payloads) or highly sensitive payloads which could be applied in compliance use cases (e.g. Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, etc.)
  • Some NPB solution vendors have the ability to interconnect their appliances to configure logical systems with hundreds of ports, although user interface complexity can serve as a limiting factor in many products. Others have pushed the envelope even further allowing customer to build up a fully redundant mesh architecture to broker traffic across Virtual, Physical networks or LAN and WAN and Internet boundaries.
  • When a number of monitoring tools are connected to the NPBs tool ports, copies of traffic from any of the network ports can be optimized and delivered to any of the tools using the NPB’s CLI, GUI or central management interface. Some even offer extensible XML API to perform desired configuration changes and perform on-demand data capture and intelligent data delivery to one or more security and monitoring tool.
  • The more advanced NPBs offer enhanced security (access control, port permissions, etc.) either on the individual level or by using groups, filter library / archiving, and the ability to manage multiple devices simultaneously from a single interface.

Advantages

  • Network Packet Brokers facilitate centralizing network traffic monitoring and security tools and IT expertise across the enterprise and service provider network e.g. Networks Operations Center [NOC] / Security Operations Center [SOC].
  • By providing remote monitoring and control, they save the time and expense of traveling to remote locations to install monitoring and security tools at every location while keeping the capital expenditure low by avoiding the need for deploying multiple instances of the same tool(s) across the network
  • NPBs make it easier to share tools among groups and help extend the ROI from existing tools.
  • NPBs offering media and data rate conversion capabilities, enable 1 Gigabit tools to support 10 Gigabit links, and 10 Gigabit tools to monitor traffic aggregated from multiple 1 Gigabit links.
  • NPBs prevent tool oversubscription by pre-filtering traffic, and some even offer large-data buffers to mitigate against microburst in the network.
  • With NPBs customers can tap network links directly, instead of relying on switch SPAN ports for monitoring access. Those NPBs offering bypass switch capabilities also allow the IT network administrators to deploy multiple inline tools on the same network link or support 10G links with multiple 1G tools by leveraging the NPBs intelligent L2-L7 filtering and load balancing capabilities described earlier.
  • Because of their high port densities and modular form factors compared to discreet Taps, they save rack space and power, and can have a lower price per port while allowing customers to future-proof their investments. This is particularly true for those offering a system based approach for connecting multiple NPB appliances across LAN and WAN segments.

Disadvantages

Not all NPBs are created equal.

  • They are non-standard – different vendor devices operate and are managed differently.
  • Some NPB offer off-the-shelve hardware packaged (OEM) in different form factors which can lead to lack of backward compatibility and access to predictive engineering roadmaps.
  • Others provide a monolithic switched based architecture that offers an expensive initial investment to buy a large chassis that is unable to share access and intelligence across different platforms. These are often limited by backplane chassis throughputs and lack backward compatibility with other legacy platforms from the same vendor; they more dense switches often need a separate management interface.
  • Entry-level pricing is expensive – if just a few links or tools need to be instrumented, price per port will be higher than the customer is willing to invest in. Not everyone needs to build a large mesh architecture. So it’s imperative that those NPB vendors offering a system-based approach can offer customers a pay-as-you-grow model with a highly flexible and modular platform.
  • Advanced functionality on some products can be very cumbersome to activate and maintain over time. Make sure you do you due diligence to perform side-by-side evaluations to see which one offers a more user friendly and extensible management to help reduce any associated operational expense.
  • Some advanced NPBs require Command Line interfaces as the primary interface required to perform the vast majority of advanced functions, even on many boxes that also offer a GUI. While CLI offers a great deal of control over the operations of the box, only the utmost of advanced users will be able to configure filtering and connections using CLI without overlooking problems such as filter overlaps, replication and accuracy checks, and ongoing active system management.

References

[2]

[3]

  1. ^ NPB Landscape by Jonah Kowall (See link below)
  2. ^ Kowall, Jonah. “Application-aware-network-performance-monitoring-npm-and-network-packet-broker-npb-research”. Gartner. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  3. ^ Laliberte, Bob. “Intelligent Network Packet Brokers”. Intelligent Network Packet Brokers – Market Report. ESG. Retrieved 12 July 2012.

External Links

See also

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