Keith Bromley
Sr. Manager, Product Marketing at Ixia
Blog

Burst Protection: The ABCs of Network Visibility

February 6, 2018 by Keith Bromley

As almost everyone in IT knows, Ethernet traffic has inherently bursty traffic patterns. When real-time protocols like VoIP are added to the mix, traffic burstiness can become noticeable and result in network equipment buffer overloads along with IP packet loss. Burst protection capabilities are necessary to overcome this for lower speed (1 Gigabit Ethernet) monitoring situations. When troubleshooting, you need to see every packet (even under microburst conditions).

What Is Burst Protection?

Traffic bursts can result from many sources. For instance, there could be network congestion due to a high volume of traffic. There could also be delays caused by the use of slower speed equipment, i.e., 1 GE equipment in use on 10 GE networks. Another source of packet loss could come from overburdened inline security tools or overburdened routing switches. Whatever the cause, packets can become delayed or lost on the network.

Major delays will often result in lost data. However, for smaller incidences these data delays do not have to result in a catastrophic failure. A network packet broker (NPB) with extended burst protection can use buffering to overcome packet delays. For instance, if bursting occurs on the monitoring network, the NPB can perform deep buffering (also called extended burst protection) for up to 200 MB of bandwidth. This deep buffering allows monitoring tools to see every packet, even under microburst conditions, where the aggregate bandwidth temporarily exceeds port capacity.

Typical Use Cases

Extended burst protection within an NPB offers traffic management and protection to online businesses that are subject to bursts of activity. This speeds up data analysis by monitoring tools and can potentially decrease traffic on the network (due to retransmissions).

In regards to network monitoring, there are several specific use cases and instances where burst protection can be beneficial. Here are some specific situations:

  • Data rate conversion – Bursting commonly occurs when traffic from a high-speed network is adapted to feed a lower-speed tool, i.e. 1 GE tools used on a 10 GE network
  • Low packet loss tolerant networks – Stock trading, online betting, and gaming are examples of industries that are highly sensitive to any type of loss or delays. These types of companies may want to deploy extended burst protection to limit packet loss in their monitoring network as well.
  • Networks with real-time traffic – This includes the monitoring of voice over IP (VoIP), video communications, etc. where it is necessary to collect all of the monitoring data as quickly as possible for diagnostic activities.
  • Inline security analysis of data – For inline security tools, it is typically a good idea for buffering to be built into the NPB to help smooth out data overloads before transmission to the inline tools. This prevents the loss of any critical data needed by the analysis tool.

Considerations

The following are some things to keep in mind about visibility solutions:

Deep buffering capability – You’ll want to select an NPB that has at least 200MB of buffering to be useful for today’s high-speed networks

Feature deployment capability – The feature needs to be enabled easily and be capable of continuous long-term use

More Information on Burst Protection and Network Visibility

Further information about burst protection along with Ixia’s network performance, network security and network visibility solutions and how they can help generate the insight needed for your business is available on the Ixia website.