From both network and security perspectives, you can’t fix what you can’t see. That’s why total network visibility is so critical to successfully supporting a productive workforce and mitigating security vulnerabilities.
However, achieving network visibility is easier said than done. As you deploy increasingly complex network services and support an ever-evolving network architecture, blind spots are inevitable.
Designing for network visibility starts with understanding what the term actually means and why it’s so important to a modern business.
What Is Network Visibility?
The basic definition of network visibility isn’t too complicated. Essentially, it means having total awareness of all traffic traveling into and out of your network. With total traffic visibility, you can ensure your security and monitoring tools are working most efficiently.
In a perfect world, you could implement visibility tools on every link in your network to prevent blind spots. However, budget constraints and port limitations make this difficult.
Rather than thinking about network visibility on a link-by-link basis, a more efficient approach is to implement a central visibility controller management system and a pervasive network visibility layer.
A pervasive visibility layer includes:
- Network Packet Brokers (NPBs): Active devices that direct selected raw data packets from network interfaces to specific network service and monitoring devices as well as performance management and security appliances. These data analyzers are great for deduplication of redundant packets.
- Network Taps: External devices that create copies of data packets for analysis by various monitoring tools. They enable port mirroring and come in both passive and active versions.
- Network Bypass Switches: Hardware that provides failover capabilities for inline networking tools like firewalls and intrusion prevention systems. In the case of a failed appliance, traffic automatically bypasses these solutions to ensure traffic flows are uninterrupted.
With a cohesive strategy that weaves each of these types of tools together, you can achieve pervasiveness that unlocks the true value of network visibility.
Why Invest in Network Visibility?
In many cases, networking pros believe they can achieve a sufficient level of visibility with SPAN ports alone. However, SPAN is a limited resource that can’t keep pace with the complexities of modern network visibility strategies.
Instead of pushing SPAN beyond its limits, it’s important to invest in deploying a pervasive network visibility layer. And when you do, you’ll enjoy benefits such as:
- Bandwidth Optimization: Resource-intensive applications can create performance problems across your business. Visibility sheds light on bottlenecks and helps prevent them in the first place.
- Minimize Downtime: Availability is critical as we depend more and more on network-connected systems and applications. Taking down a service for maintenance can be costly for a business. But with the visibility tools in place, you can proactively address issues that could lead to outages.
- Improve Security: Inline and out-of-band security tools won’t protect your network if they don’t see 100% of data packets transferring in and out. Visibility ensures all packets are analyzed for malicious activity and gives you an opportunity to track logs to create a baseline of normal behavior.
Many networking pros try to gain these benefits by investing in new security and monitoring tools. However, a pervasive visibility layer has to be the foundation to ensure you get the most out of those investments.