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Gigamon Adds New Traffic Filtering Capabilities

Updates aim to provide more granular data to monitoring tools as enterprises adopt SDN and cloud.

Gigamon announced new applications and features that are designed to improve traffic visibility for enterprises and service providers. However, a networking expert predicts many of the capabilities are likely to become integrated into software-defined networking products.

Huy Nguyen, Gigamon’s senior director of product management, said the company’s focus is on providing fabric-wide, integrated software applications that send the right data to the right tools so enterprises can optimize their tools infrastructure, including network and application performance monitoring. He said these tools must keep with the volume, speed and variety of data that is being driven by virtualization, SDN, cloud and the adoption of 100Gb, without adding more overhead.

The updates to Gigamon’s Unified Visibility Fabric architecture include traffic filtering capabilities such as stateful correlation, subscriber awareness, and deep-packet visibility. A new GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP) correlation application, targeting service providers, allows filtering and forwarding of correlated subscriber traffic streams for visibility into subscriber activity.

The company’s FlowVUE application, meanwhile, provides active, subscriber-aware flow sampling to forward the most relevant traffic to tools that otherwise would not be able to handle the volume of traffic.

More relevant to enterprise data centers is an adaptive packet filtering capability that looks for content anywhere in the packet and makes filtering and forwarding decisions using criteria such as advanced encapsulation protocols and/or inner packet contents beyond Layer 4. Gigamon has also added IPv6 de-duplication and Cisco FabricPath header stripping and IP fragmentation awareness.

[Read about new cloud-based log aggregation and analysis services that can help enterprise IT security teams filter gigabytes of log data in "Big Data Analytics, Cloud Services, And IT Security."]

Overall, these updates to its Visibility Fabric allow Gigamon to sample more data, Nguyen said.

Networking expert Tom Hollingsworth of Gestalt IT said the challenge with capturing a great deal of data from huge pipes in the data center is that you can’t get everything. “It’s like trying to drink from a fire hose,” he said. “They’ve found a way to put a smaller nozzle on it so it’s not quite as painful.”

Hollingsworth said monitoring companies such as Gigamon are going to face increased competition from SDN vendors that are including similar capabilities. For example, Big Switch already has network taps it can deploy seamlessly inside an SDN environment that don’t create any additional overhead, he said.

Gigamon invested in developing hardware that has become widely deployed in enterprise networks, Hollingsworth said. “Now SDN is offering something completely and radically different because it can build all of the functionality into existing devices.” Customers are now expecting that functionality, and less willing to pay extra for it, he said.

The advantage Gigamon currently has is its ability to handle a high velocity of data, but it’s going to face challenges convincing customers of the value of buying physical hardware, Hollingsworth added.

“Gigamon is going to have to come up with a bigger, badder story to sell more boxes,” he said. “In the future, I wouldn’t be shocked if we see Gigamon come out with a software plug-in to work in an SDN environment.”

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