Netscout ups scale of network monitoring switch

Two years ago Netscout Systems brought out one of the first packet flow-based network monitoring switches, a modest fixed 24-port device.

This week the lineup expanded substantially with the addition of three chassis-type models, one of which can offer up to 576 ports that can handle 10 Gigabit Ethernet traffic, or 48 ports that can take 40 GbE traffic.

“It’s a significant expansion of our position in network monitoring,” said Steve Shalita, Netscout’s vice-president of marketing.

“We’re significantly leapfrogging the vendors that are in the market today with much higher density, performance, feature capability and manageability.”

Those competitors include products from companies such as Gigamon, Ixia, Apcon and Net Optics

Netscout’s new line is the nGenius 3900 series Packet Flow Switch, an outgrowth of its acquisition last November of Onpath Technologies, which makes network monitoring switches.
(Netscout nGenius 3912)

Unlike the earlier 1500 model that came out in 2011, the 3900 is a data-class module switch, Shalita said, with a unified management that supports large distributed environments in enterprises.

One of the problems large organizations face is scaling access to network traffic for a growing number performance management, application management and security tools. There’s only so many network connections, he argues.

Also the shift from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps traffic raises the possibility of having to replace tools that are limited to 1 GB. A network monitoring switch can scale those connections, Shalita said, either by load balancing or conditioning traffic.

As a result, the network monitor becomes what he called a “middleware network layer.”

Zeus Kerravala, an industry analyst and principle at ZK Research agreed.

Packet management is the way networks will be managed in the future, he said in an interview, because flow-based tools can see things like virtual machines.
The 3900 series has three models: The 1U-sized 3901 with one slot and 48 1 GbE/10 GbE ports; the three-slot 3903 with up to 144 1 GbE/10 GbE ports and the 12-slot 3912 with up to 576 ports.
Shalita said depending on configuration pricing starts between US$30,000 and $40,000.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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