As a network management technology, NetFlow is rather long in the tooth. But that's not stopping performance management vendors from buffing it up.
Last week, for example, Lancope unveiled the next iteration of its flow-based StealthWatch System, which provides application performance, network and security monitoring. Among the capabilities included in StealthWatch 6.0 is support for new NetFlow features from Cisco.
One such feature is NBAR, or network-based application recognition.
"It's kind of nerdy, down to the nuts and bolts of flow analysis, but NBAR lets a router read into the packet payload for more detail," says Adam Powers, CTO of Lancope.
"Network reporting and analysis tools have to be able to dig further into the traffic and differentiate individual types of HTTP traffic. They need to know 'Is my Internet connection being consumed by YouTube or is it going out to our Salesforce portal?'" Adams says. "6.0 is about helping customers better understand the nature of their traffic all the way up to the application layer."
SevOne, another performance management vendor, also recently announced support for NBAR as well as other NetFlow advancements in its Performance Appliance Solution.
In addition, PAS leverages Cisco Network Analysis Modules to provide application and response time reporting. The goal is to help customers recognize, diagnose and resolve performance degradations of their critical applications, says the company, which recently co-hosted a NetFlow Webinar along with Cisco and Jim Frey, a research director at Enterprise Management Associates.
In an interview, Frey says he's definitely seen an uptick in enterprise interest in flow-based management as the desire for end-to-end visibility grows.
He attributes the renewed interest in NetFlow and other flow-based technologies to the increasing importance organizations are placing on taking a services-orientation. "Using NetFlow analysis is one of the quicker ways to make that leap - to jump from a focus on equipment health and activity to one of 'how am I supporting the organization?' - for the network team," he says.