Napatech Optical By-pass Adapters Give OEM's Fail-over

Napatech Optical byPass switch gives in-line appliance manufacturers automatic by-pass capabilities.

June 29, 2009

3 Min Read
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Napatech released its first NTBPE Optical By-Pass Adapter for use in network appliances. Support speeds up to 10Gb/s over multi-mode and single mode fiber, the NTBPE give passive, in-situ failover without the need for an external tap or by-pass switch. The NTBPE pricing at $1,100 with volume discounts.

As more network devices get placed in line for traffic shaping, load balancing, filtering, detection and monitoring, the risk of disrupting connections due to any one unit failing increases dramatically. When network devices are put in line, their reliability is a combination of the reliability of all the in-line devices in series. If you have one in-line device that has 3 nines reliability, 99.9% uptime or 8.76 hours of down time per year.  Add another in-line device with 99.9% reliability and downtime jumps to 17.5 hours per year (.999 x .999 = .998), that is a significant increase. In some cases, downtime doesn't much matter, in others, any downtime is critical.

In-line devices such as IDS's and network monitoring appliances need a way to ensure uptime in the event of device failure. One way is to use a by-pass tap such as netOptics By-pass switches that will automatically on device failure, or on command by-pass the device without disruption or frame loss. In-line taps, of course, already have the ability to switch to by-pass if the there is a power failure in the tap.

Napatech's NTBPE is an optical switch on PCIe card that has eight optical ports. The optical ports support 1 or 10Gb Ethernet. Two ports are used to put the device in-line, the NTBPE can support two connections simultaneously, and 4 ports are used to send traffic to passive monitoring devices like an IDS or network monitor using Napatech's NT20E Adapter or any fiber adapter. The receiving adapters can be in the same appliance as the NTBPE or in a separate appliance. In either case, the NTBPE and receiving NIC much be cabled externally. Even of the Bypass switch and adapters are in the same appliance, the data path has to go out of the ports to retain the passiveness of the device.

The NTBPE is controlled through software and can switch into bypass mode on hardware failure such as a power outage, or through software. Utilities on the server can place the NTBPE into bypass mode, which takes approximately 10ms. For example, if upgrading the server will be disruptive, you can put the NTBPE into by-pass, perform the upgrade, and then put it back in-line. The NTBPE can also be integrated with the host system to automatically switch to by-pass mode on any failure or command. For example, if the application is failing, it can switch to by-pass until it recovers.  The NTBE can also be configured to a default setting, in by-pass or not.Napatech only sell to OEM, so you can't go buy a NTBPE, but knowing what is in your appliances goes along way towards knowing if a vendors reliability claims are valid or not.

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