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Why Gigamon's network big data play is important

Some are speculating that the move toward software will chip away at its technical lead. Unified Visibility Fabric may change their minds.

This week, traffic visibility solution provider Gigamon announced its Unified Visibility Fabric, which provides Traffic Intelligence to help enterprises and services providers get a better handle on what traffic is flowing across the network. Gigamon has beefed up the application and services layer of its visibility fabric with new applications and features that offer advanced filter capabilities, such as stateful correction, user-level awareness and deep packet visibility. The Traffic Intelligence provides more granular filtering and forwarding to make sure the tools and applications network managers use to manage and secure the network receive only the data that it needs to operate.

Gigamon’s focus is to provide fabric-wide, integrated applications that send the correct data to the correct tools so organizations can optimize the performance of the tools, including network and application performance.

There’s no question that the trends of video, virtualization, software defined networks, BYOD, 40 Gig and 100 Gig have all added significantly more traffic to networks today. The challenge created from the increased volumes of traffic, combined with increased network speeds, is that the management, performance, and security tools customers use can’t capture the volume of data being pushed to it. Think of network traffic having to pass through a tollbooth and when it gets through, it’s directed to the right tool(s). If there’s too much traffic, then the cars get backed up and the things on the other side of the toll plaza won’t operate as well.

Gigamon effectively reduces the amount of data through its adaptive packet filtering feature that inspects the traffic and makes forwarding decisions based on criteria, such as the packet content beyond layer 4 and encapsulation protocols. The release also includes “GigaSMART” technology updates that include the addition of IPv6 de-duplication as well as visibility to the increasingly popular Cisco Fabric path.

The company also included a new application for mobile operators called a “GTP correlation application,” which enables their customers to filter and forward correlated subscriber traffic streams that have been encapsulated using the GPRS Tunneling Protocol within 3G/4G/LTE environments. GTP correlation provides access to large volumes for mobile data caused by voice, video and data on wireless networks. The GTP correlation uses stateful filtering and forwarding to give a complete picture of the subscriber activities.

This release can be significant for Gigamon customers and have big cost savings implications. Without the visibility fabric, an increase in network speeds would mean that organizations would need to upgrade the network interfaces on each one of the security, management, forensic and performance tools. The ROI on this alone could make the deployment of Gigamon worth it.

There’s been a fair bit of speculation in the industry that this market is shifting to software, and Gigamon’s technical lead will eventually slip away. As long as bandwidth speeds keep increasing and customers fill those pipes, hardware platforms, Gigamon will continue to matter.

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