Gigamon has carried the flag for the NPB industry for a number of years and has an excellent product, but Ixia’s GUI is better suited to handle today’s challenges.
The IT infrastructure that drives an organization’s business strategy has become increasingly dynamic and distributed. The introduction of new technologies to increase IT agility has made it much more difficult to manage and secure the infrastructure using traditional tools.
This challenge has resulted in several new specialized tools that network administrators have had to figure out how to integrate into their environment. The explosion of new security and management applications has something called “tool sprawl”, where the number of tools has become unmanageable.
Trying to connect each tool to each network device is extremely complicated and inefficient. The desire to simplify things has created a strong demand for NPB intermediaries. If you’re not familiar with the technology, you’re between the network infrastructure and a layer of tools and perform a number of tasks to make the tools more efficient and easier to deploy.
Gigamon was the first to create the NPB market, but its configuration tools make it a challenge for IT to ensure that the tools are properly configured.
Ixia has a graphical configuration interface that provides significant advantages over Gigamon, which uses a basic logical GUI called Flowmap or a traditional command line interface (CLI).
ZK Research interviewed customers who performed a number of configuration tasks using both vendors. Most Gigamon customers found Flowmap cumbersome and returned to the CLI.
Advantages of the Ixia graphical user interface
- Improved accuracy of monitoring filters. Monitoring filters are the rules that create intelligence in an NPB. The complexity of creating filters across a command line causes errors due to typing errors or inconsistent commands. For customers using Flowmap, they found that they had to track many logical operations, especially for VLAN overlay. Performing the same operations through Ixia’s graphical user interface reduced errors by at least 20 percent.
- Faster provision of SPAN sessions. The process to create a SPAN session can be long and tedious using CLI. The process is as follows:
- Enter the user name and password to log in to the system.
- Manually remove existing code to avoid encoding problems.
- Write a new code.
- Start the new code.
- Monitor output data on the SPAN port, which may require a tap feed to increase data accuracy and verify that programming is correct.
In addition, the process of creating SPAN sessions is not linear (the third step takes more time than the second, which takes longer than the first) because the time for troubleshooting and verification increases with each monitoring session. The following sample compares the time it takes to create multiple SPAN sessions using a graphical user interface and Ixia’s graphical user interface.
- Faster filter change process. The research revealed that most companies change the connections between tools and CNNs at least twice a month, and each change requires changes in programming. Gigamon’s CLI-based changes are four times longer than when using the Ixia GUI. This could take even longer if the rules entered are complex and/or new tools are added/removed. Even when using Flowmap, twice as much time is needed to understand the logic and not introduce errors. This is essentially because the Gigamon filter has priority and, as such, overlaps must be resolved manually. Every time new rules are added, the overlay resolution takes a tremendous amount of time, and more often than not, the original design needs to be discarded because creating a new design is much easier than trying to modify configurations based on an old design.
- Ixia does not have this problem because its patented Dynamic Filter Engine (DFE) technology can solve overlaps automatically and smoothly when new rules or tools are added. This becomes significant because nearly 50 percent of network administrators spend more than half their time configuring monitoring tools, leaving little time for innovation. Lower cost of test filters and troubleshooting. Each filter you create requires testing to ensure that it passes the correct data. A comprehensive test takes 1.5 to 2 hours to complete when using a CLI. To speed up this process, network administrators often perform simple tests, often losing critical information.
- Ixia’s graphical user interface, along with its complete statistics on each data path jump, allows comprehensive testing in 15 minutes, while being needed to perform a quick test with a CLI. Intelligent filter interaction. With CLI-based systems, engineers must understand how filters interact with each other and write rules to accommodate them. This process can be automated through the GUI versus having to run it manually with a CLI system.
- No troubleshooting requirements: With Gigamon, extensive testing and errors are needed to fix configuration problems or even logical problems that have been overlooked in certain aspects of the overall design. Ixia has a patented dynamic filter engine (DFE) that eliminates potential logic and configuration problems as a result. The engine automatically resolves overlaps and programs the hardware with the exact rules required for the job. The DFE saves time and money in operation and significantly reduces the time needed to troubleshoot problems. More importantly, it improves tool agility and operation agility whenever new rules are needed.
- Drag and drop benefits. The Ixia solution has an intuitive interface that makes it easy to use. No special training is required, everything is as simple as “point-and-click” and “drag and drop”. CLI and filter mapping systems require long training periods, while Ixia’s graphical user interface does not require any. In addition, highly paid senior network engineers manage CLI-based products, but Ixia’s graphical user interface allows younger engineers to use the tools. The increase in network tools has made NPBs a critical component of the IT infrastructure. Gigamon has been carrying the flag for this industry for several years and has an excellent product. However, increasing demands on the network require engineers to be more agile and operate faster. Ixia’s graphical user interface provides an excellent alternative for organizations looking to take full advantage of NPBs while reducing the overhead required to manage them.
Source: Network World