Disclaimer: I recently attended Tech Field Day 19. My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event. Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.
Recep Ozdag, VP of Product Management at Ixia, presented first on Ixia’s company overview and history. Here’s a bad photo of Recep.
Ixia were acquired by Keysight in 2017, but they’ve been around for an awfully long time.
- 1939 – 1998 – the HP years
- 1999 – 2013 – The Agilent Technologies years
- 2014 – Keysight Technologies launched
Ixia Visibility Solutions
So Ixia specialise in “network visibility”, but why is that important? What’s the real thing you need to know about on your network? Is it performance? That’s important, sure. But the really big thing that keeps network folks awake at night is security. It’s constantly changing and there’s always a lot of ground to cover. To wit, you have:
- BYOD – uncontrolled devices on the network;
- Encryption – hidden traffic means hidden threats;
- IoT – billions more endpoints to protect; and
- Cloud – secure data on or off-premises.
According to Ixia, every day there are approximately 5 million IoT devices being connected to networks. Some of these cheap security cameras are even sitting on shelves pre-installed with malware. Happy days! With better visibility you have the opportunity to enhance your existing investments. Within a bank, for example, there are 15 different tools doing stuff and they all want to see a different piece of the data.
So how does Ixia help to improve visibility inside your network? Network packet brokers.
[image courtesy of Ixia]
And what can these things do? All kinds of cool stuff, including “Context Aware” Data Processing:
- Packet trimming
- Adaptive packet filtering
- Data masking
- GRE tunnel termination
- SSL decryption
- Geo location
- Netlog generation
The Struggle Is Real
As I mentioned before, securing your network can be a challenge, and every day things are changing and new threats are popping up. Keeping up with all of this stuff is a struggle. You’re looking at challenges with:
- SSL and IPsec
- Data leakage
- Advanced persistent threats
- Malware and vulnerabilities
Enter the Vision X
The Vision X is a network packet broker delivered via a modular platform. You can make it do anything you want it to do today, and add functionality as it’s developed.
- 2 Terabits/sec per unit
- 60 ports of 200Gb
- 108 ports of 50Gb
- 76 ports of 40Gb
- 108 ports of 10Gb
- 108 ports of 25 Gb
- 5 redundant and hot swap fans
- 4 redundant and hot swap power
- 6.4TB per second switching capacity
- 2Tb per second of PacketStack
- NEBS 3 certification
- Out of band and inline
PacketStack – intelligent packet filtering, manipulation and transport
- Data masking
- Protocol trimming
- Header stripping
- GRE tunneling
NetStack – robust filtering, aggregation, replication, and more
- Three stages of filtering
- Dynamic filter compiler
- Load balancing
- VLAN tagging
But The Edge!
Ixia also have the Vision E1S (the E stands for Edge). As Ixia pointed out during their presentation, a lot of customer data doesn’t always traverse to the cloud or DC – it stays local. “If you want to monitor something – you monitor where the data is”.
Thoughts And Further Reading
One of my favourite things about attending Tech Field Day events is that I hear from companies that I don’t deal with on a daily basis. As anyone who’s worked with me can attest, my networking chops aren’t great at all. So hearing about things like network packet brokers has been really interesting.
One of the biggest challenges in both enterprise and service provider environments is visibility into what’s happening at various levels of infrastructure – be it storage, compute, network or application. Tools like the ones offered by Ixia seem to do a pretty comprehensive job of ensuring that visibility is not the reason that you don’t know what’s going on in your network. I was intrigued by the security theme of the presentation, and I agree wholeheartedly that security concerns should be at the forefront of everything we do from an infrastructure perspective. Managing your critical infrastructure isn’t just knowing about what’s happening in your environment, but also being able to keep up with threats as they arise. Network packet brokers don’t automagically make your environment more secure, nor do they increase your security posture as new threats arise. That said, the kind of visibility you’ll get with these kinds of solutions takes away the concern that you can’t see what’s going on.
Monitoring and visibility solutions come in all shapes and sizes, and they can make a system administrator’s life a lot simpler or add to the noise in the environment. Given that most all infrastructure depends on network connectivity to some point, and network connectivity can have such a big impact on the end user’s ability to do what they need to do to engage in their core business activities, it makes a lot of sense to look at solutions like network packet brokers to get a deeper understanding of what’s going on in any particular environment.
Ixia’s range of products seems to do a pretty good job of covering both the core DC and edge workload requirements (along with cloud), and coupled with their rich history in network visibility, they’re delivering a good story when it comes to improving visibility within your environment. If you’re struggling to understand what your East-West traffic looks like, or what your applications are doing, or if someone’s been silly and plonked a malware-ridden security camera in their office, you’d do well to check out what Ixia has to offer. For another view, check out Wes‘s take on Ixia’s portfolio here.