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Probing The State Of The Flow Record Data Market

When it comes to network monitoring, probes appear to be an endangered species in large organizations, according to a new study from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). Conducted on behalf of Lancope, a vendor of NetFlow-based solutions, the research examined the usage, priorities and practices surrounding network-based flow data records, also known as Flow Record Data, including NetFlow, sFlow, jFlow and IPFIX.

Over 100 network managers, engineers, architects, administrators and executives from organizations of at least 5,000 employees were involved in the study. Lancope and EMA will host a webinar on Tuesday, Sept. 27, to discuss the findings and the ways in which flow data can be used to support a range of enterprise IT objectives both now and in the future.

The survey was intended to determine what is happening in the flow monitoring market and, specifically, how NetFlow, an open-source technology originally developed by Cisco, is doing, says Lancope CTO Adam Powers. "Sixty percent of respondents said they were replacing packet-based monitors. That's really good because that saves the customer money."

Supported by a variety of network vendors, including Cisco, Juniper and Enterasys, NetFlow collects IP traffic information. Originally developed by InMon, sFlow monitors high-speed switched and routed networks, while jFlow is an IP traffic flow sampler technology used by Juniper-manufactured routers and switches.

The research found that the most popular current uses of flow data are traffic monitoring (76%) and security monitoring (61%). However, while traffic monitoring was the most popular reason for deploying flow data initially, once implemented, security became the most significant, says Powers.

"One of the things that differentiates Lancope is we do NetFlow security. We do behavioral analysis and detecting network badness. That's very difficult to do," Powers says.

Lancope’s StealthWatch System was recently named the best joint security and network management solution in EMA's Radar report for Application-Aware Network Performance Management (ANPM).

Other key findings include: 47% of respondents leverage flow data for understanding services consumption; 46% use flow data for planning/engineering; 96% say they expect to maintain or expand their use of flow data over the next 12 to 18 months; and NetFlow is the most popular type of flow data, used by 70% of respondents.

The report's author, EMA's Jim Frey, managing research director, states that any organization seeking to improve the alignment between IT operations and the business, as well as those looking to improve their ability to ensure the security of increasingly complex infrastructures, focus on the use of flow record data as a mature and proven technique for addressing both sets of objectives.

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