Today, enterprises need easy access to all of the bits, bytes and packets flowing through a network. And providing this accessibility is a critical piece of network design, says a new white paper from Garland Technology. The paper provides a networking user guide for Network TAPs or traffic or test access points.
Without access and 100% visibility, security appliances, monitoring devices and analytical solutions cannot function optimally – a critical issue in a world where downtime or a security breach could cost millions.
Network Test Access Points or Traffic Access Points (Network TAPs) were engineered in the 1970s to address this challenge, the report states.
“They were originally designed to passively monitor networks by sending a complete copy of the live network data to analyzers or other monitoring devices,” the white paper says.
And in early 2000, after the bypass TAP — which came to market to ensure that in-line security devices were able to access 100% of the network traffic data and prevent their failure from causing a complete network shut down — the tech has evolved to provide network engineers with connectivity solutions for a range of devices and network configurations.
So, ultimately, why do networks need to be engineered for connectivity? The report breaks it down like this — new tools and appliances, such as next-gen firewalls, Wireshark tools, lawful intercept solutions, data loss prevention and more all need a connectivity strategy. And these tools are often integral to the success of today’s companies.
The report explores two opposing approaches to network connectivity: SPAN ports vs. network TAPs.
Often, non-engineers choose to obtain traffic data from the switch’s mirror port or SPAN port because it “seems easily available,” the report states.
In this configuration, the switch makes a copy of the data it transmits and sends it to the connected device.
“Simply put, network TAPs are purpose-built hardware devices that can be inserted anywhere into the network to provide connected appliances with an exact copy of the traffic flowing through it.” — Garland Technology
“Because “copy-send” isn’t the switch’s primary function, it is relegated to best-effort when a network spike occurs,” the report states, which can lead to dropped packets and gaps in security and monitoring programs.
Garland suggests a network TAP to guarantee 100% visibility; the key is finding the solution that best fits your environment, monitoring requirements and budget, the company says.
This is key as network TAP technology has evolved, and today there are multiple functional modes to consider when architecting a reliable connectivity architecture, including:
- Breakout “Normal” TAPs
- Filtering TAPs
- Aggregation TAPs
- Replication TAPs
- Bypass TAPs
- Media Changing TAPs
This white paper from Garland Technology also explores:
- Connectivity best practices and understanding Network TAPs and modes
- Environmental considerations: passive or active
- How to engineer End-to-End visibility