• United States
Senior Editor

Managing high-speed nets

Sep 24, 20032 mins
Data Center

* Managing high-speed nets with RFC 3176, also known as "sFlow"

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As high-speed networks proliferate large customer environments, the need to manage that traffic grows.

Our Technology Update authors ( and this week take a look at a proposed standard that defines a mechanism to help customers monitor and manage these nets.

According to our authors RFC 3176, addresses traffic monitoring and forensic network analysis through network packet sampling. RFC 3176, also known as “sFlow” defines and architecture that lets users deploy networkwide traffic monitoring for high-speed switched and routed networks.

RFC 3176 lets administrators reliably and statistically measure their network’s performance and traffic impact of all connected applications, users, servers, switches, routers and storage switches. SFlow monitors and proactively helps administrators adjust network traffic patterns in complex enterprise, metropolitan service provider and high-performance computing environments with thousands of nodes and significant bandwidth requirements, our authors say. 

Specifically, sFlow uses an agent embedded in switch or router ASICs to manage traffic. The sFlow MIB controls the sFlow agent, which captures, formats and forwards the packet samples to a central RFC 3176 data collector creating a datagram. By statistically sampling network traffic, network administrators gain a systemwide view of the traffic, network security and application traffic sources throughout the network.

A number of network vendors such as Extreme, Foundry and HP support RFC 3176 already.  For more information see: