Perspective goes with the Flow

When Cisco Systems created the NetFlow protocol for gathering IP traffic data on its IOS-based routers and switches, it opened the doors for a number of other manufacturers to create similar systems.

So many, in fact, that NetFlow has become an interational standared called Internet Protocol Flow Information eXport (IPFIX).

But not every network device – not even all Cisco devices – can grab NetFlow data. For that reason, the traffic analysis module in the latest version of PacketTrap Network’s Perspective network management application has been updated to include the ability to capture traffic information from non Flow-supported devices.

Now part of Perspective 3.0, which will be released Feb. 5, ptFlow is one of five improvements to the suite that Matt Bolton, PacketTrap’s vice-president of products, says puts Perspective “on the forefront of providing easy to use network management for the masses.”

ptFlow is an agent that takes data from anything on the network that supports port mirroring – from routers to servers to workstations – and converts it to Flow format. Working on 32- and 64-bit operating systems, it supports TCP, UDP & ICMP (IPv4) traffic. Support for IPv6 will be added soon, the company says.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t have devices on their networks that support Flow technology,” Bolton said. “If they can only support NetFlow and (Juniper’s) J-Flow, they’re not going to be able to monitor traffic. PacketTrap will now let them.”

As with any data available in the analysis module, users can view applications, conversations, devices, endpoints, and protocols in graphical charts. The module also lets uses access historical trends for all flows for network capacity planning.

Also new in V 3.0 is

-browser support, which gives network administrators the ability to log in from any browser to administer a Perspectives system. There is also read-only mobile browser support, with the ability to write to a mobile browser due “in a few weeks;”

-an SNMP enablement utility, which lets Perspective automatically turn on and configure SNMP devices. Until now this had to be done manually for each device;

-VoIP and IP SLA support, so administrators can monitor the jitter, latency and other performance indicators of a VoIP system;

-configuration backup support for HP ProCurve and Juniper switches, in addition to previous support for Cisco devices. All of these changes allows Bolton to describe the release as a major upgrade.

There is no change to the price of Perspective, whose base model costs US$1,495. That includes the ability to monitor up to 50 devices, including application and virtual monitoring.

Additional capabilities come in separately sold plug-in modules. The network traffic analysis module, which includes PTFlow, is priced by the number of devices watched. For example, a module that monitors traffic for up to five devices costs US$1,495.

The wireless monitor, for keeping an eye on an unlimited number of wireless devices, costs US$1,495, while the VoIP monitor costs US$995.

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