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  • 1. WHITE PAPER Optimizing Wide Area Network Performance Leveraging Sniffer InfiniStream across the Enterprise March 2006
  • 2. Optimizing Wide Area Network Performance Leveraging Sniffer InfiniStream across the Enterprise Executive Summary ease of use, flexibility, reliability, and low cost. While Increasing global competition has forced many LANs are similar to WANs in that they are both designed enterprises to reduce operational costs by locating key to provide connections between data communications business functions in lower-cost areas. Advances in equipment and allow for the exchange of data packets, communications technology have allowed more critical they have several important differences. business functions to be distributed across these remote sites, relying on wide area networks to ensure mission- WANs typically connect networks (LANs) of multiple critical applications are available. A key problem facing devices dispersed across a wide geographic area. WAN IT infrastructure managers is how to ensure end-to-end technologies are also used for connecting individual network performance and availability as their business devices (often called Remote Access). These are increasingly relies on the wide area network (WAN). This conceptually the same in that single systems perform white paper provides information on how Ethernet-based multiple functions – for example, end station, network management tools such as Sniffer InfiniStream server/print-server, router, etc. can simplify the WAN management challenge, and the benefits gained by the enterprise taking a more active The aspect of distance adds additional complication to role in managing their WAN links. the task of enabling communication between WAN endpoints. Both technological and economic issues Distributed WANs are Integral to Enterprise come in to play. From a technology standpoint, as Operations distance increases, the signal quality decreases. In communications, better signals mean higher speeds and Advances in communications technologies used across greater bandwidth. While there are techniques that can WANs have made the collaboration between be applied to improve long distance signals, they add to geographically dispersed employees, vendors, and complexity and cost. Different transport technologies customers both a reality and a requirement in today’s than those used in LANs have been developed to business climate. In some situations, this is driven by a maximize the capabilities on the WAN. From an desire to seek the lowest cost markets in which to economic standpoint, WAN connections require operate. In other cases, businesses have become more technology deployed across multiple rights-of-way. One attuned to disaster recovery planning and mission either has to negotiate these rights of way and deploy assurance. Additional complexity is added to the WAN appropriate transmission equipment at great cost or, equation with the migration and convergence of voice more commonly, purchase WAN services from a and data on the same underlying network. traditional telecom company or network Service Provider. The costs of these services typically increase as speed No matter what the reason, the globalization of business and distance increase. operations requires extensive communications networks between remote sites and mission critical applications For the enterprise managing network communications running over distributed data communications networks resources, this has implications not present when require healthy WANs. dealing with LANs. WAN Bandwidth is a precious commodity. While a typical LAN backbone is 100 Mbps WANs are different than LANs or even GigE, a typical WAN connection is often 1.5 Most enterprise IT managers are familiar with the Mbps, with 45 Mbps being an unheard-off luxury and concept of Local Area Networks (LANs), which are 155 Mbps a typical maximum available to most designed to interconnect data communications devices businesses. Adding 100 Mb or even 1 GB of LAN in relatively close proximity to one another. While a bandwidth is often simply a matter of adding an number of physical and logical topologies and protocols additional cable or port to an Ethernet switch – a have been used over the years to accomplish this, relatively simple, quick, and low cost effort. Adding modern LANs are almost exclusively Ethernet-based. WAN bandwidth requires sourcing additional service Ethernet has become the de facto standard due to its capacity from a service provider, a process that requires www.networkgeneral.com
  • 3. Optimizing Wide Area Network Performance Leveraging Sniffer InfiniStream across the Enterprise planning and coordination with the service provider, of internetworking requiring a handoff of traffic, additional recurring service costs, and often additional conversion of physical transmission type, or mapping of equipment costs. one protocol to another. Each handoff is an opportunity Without policing and shaping of application traffic coming for a problem to occur. Additionally, WAN protocols are from the LAN, this lower WAN bandwidth can be a typically more complex than their LAN counterparts, bottleneck, dropping excess packets and requiring whether to address the challenges inherent to wide area retransmissions that will negatively affect application networking or to provide the flexibility to support different performance. Increasing bandwidth when mission-critical users and traffic types on the same network. application performance degrades may mask underlying problems, and does not provide adequate control over Analyzing WAN traffic, particularly over ATM networks, valuable resources. With WAN bandwidth still relatively presents additional challenges compared to traditional expensive, the need for close scrutiny and management Ethernet packet analysis. This is because WAN network of WAN resources is critical to business profitability. equipment uses segmentation and reassembly (SAR) techniques to transport the data. Prior to being sent Understanding the complexity of WAN management across the ATM network, Ethernet packets are broken up into cells by the router at their entry point and then Without proper insight into the WAN, optimal network reassembled by another router when they reach their performance is not possible. Increased reliance on destination. Once the Ethernet packets are broken up WANs to transport business-critical traffic and the high into ATM cells, network analysts typically cannot discern bit-rate cost of WAN circuits translate into a very high- with which application the traffic is associated. The value resource to the enterprise. This forces network analysis tools used for WAN management organizations to carefully monitor WAN resources to should optimally give the user a consistent frame level achieve optimal network performance, and to help that allows traffic to be analyzed up to the application ensure that service providers are meeting their Service level, as opposed to merely on a cell basis. Level Agreements (SLAs). While the complexity of WANs increases the Today, Ethernet is the most widely installed local area management challenge for enterprise network network (LAN) technology. Ethernet provides simplified professionals wanting to take an active role in monitoring network connectivity and reliable high-speed and improving WAN performance, the multiplexed nature transmission in a campus network environment. of the WAN topology (and the handoff of traffic segments However, in order to connect geographically distant sites, to multiple service providers) provides greater organizations use more complex WAN technologies, complexity in the data path and a greater need for the traditionally relying on Frame Relay, ATM, and more enterprise to proactively monitor their WAN performance recently, MPLS protocols. These protocols have been to ensure this critical asset supports the business. designed to provide reliable communications in a multiplexed service provider network across great Management Challenges and Business Issues distances. Additionally, they provide for a granularity of transmission characteristics that support network traffic Clearly, wide area networks present an exponentially with different transmission requirements and a level of more complex network management task than traditional internetworking allowing for the handoff of traffic from Ethernet LANs. This issue promises to escalate as one type of network to another. WAN use increases. WAN topologies and WAN protocols are more complex In this environment, proper planning is crucial to due to the diverse requirements placed on WANs, ensuring that business requirements are met. No more including their ability to reliably and cost effectively can enterprise network managers simply plan for transport many types of communications for many formulaic increases in network capacity supported by different organizations across distances. Additional measurements of how well a packet travels from one equipment and connection points are introduced into the end of the network to another. Today, enterprise network. At each connection point, there is some level network and application managers need to work together www.networkgeneral.com
  • 4. Optimizing Wide Area Network Performance Leveraging Sniffer InfiniStream across the Enterprise and plan based on end-to-end application performance. packets onto the interface. Having visibility into both The focus on business application driven network sides of the router is extremely powerful in today’s WAN capacity planning requires a thorough understanding of environments, and is at the core of the appeal of network the business applications running on the enterprise management tools that provide it. network and their historical traffic patterns and the user- experience associated with these patterns. Enterprise Sniffer InfiniStream: Enabling Deep Visibility into network managers need tools that help them understand WAN Traffic the data underlying their business applications and how that data maps to business processes. In any network environment, intermittent problems are the most difficult to troubleshoot. Often they are As new applications are added and compete for WAN impossible to reproduce on-demand or in a lab resources, traffic prioritization becomes increasingly environment without already knowing the problem. important, especially for applications such as VoIP. The Furthermore, recreating and analyzing these situations is critical nature of voice communications and users’ a significant time drain from more productive tasks. sensitivity to any anomalies in service quality demand Network General’s Sniffer InfiniStream provides the utmost in network performance. Since many VoIP invaluable insight in this area, tracking and capturing line calls are transmitted over WAN links, IT organizations rate network traffic 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 are increasingly asserting more management control days a year, enabling continuous real-time monitoring over their wide area network resources. Unfortunately, and analysis, prospective alerting for problem scenarios, enterprises typically do not own the WAN or metropolitan and retrospective analysis to review and address network upon which they rely and therefore do not have problems after-the-fact. visibility into it except for the last handoff, which is typically Ethernet. Sniffer InfiniStream allows IT professionals to analyze randomly occurring network events with ease and Cost issues intensify the demand for WAN visibility efficiency, enabling deep retrospective analysis of previous events and eliminating the need to try to Heightened awareness of mission-critical application recreate or pinpoint specific scenarios. Sniffer performance is not the only factor in enterprises’ InfiniStream provides best-in-class streaming capture increased demand for WAN visibility. WAN links such as performance and flexible data mining for retrospective ATM networks are typically a monthly, recurring analysis techniques including: operation expense with a high bit rate/dollar ratio. IT managers are bombarded by carriers’ offers to lower • Real-time analysis operational costs by re-provisioning WANs with a • Point-in-time analysis different service product. It is impossible to determine • Back-in-time analysis whether an offer is attractive or not unless existing • Historical analysis, in conjunction with Sniffer service levels are known. Understanding your WAN Enterprise Visualizer service requirements and knowing if SLAs are being met is the first step in deciding whether another carrier offers Combined with the industry leading Sniffer Expert superior service, or if a rebate should be asked of the analysis and protocol decodes, Sniffer InfiniStream current provider. enables IT professionals to examine local- and wide- area network performance, observe traffic trends, isolate This question can be answered by gaining full visibility anomalies, perform deep packet analysis and generate into WAN traffic. To do so, network engineers must be summary reports. able to configure the routers that control the data packets to support prioritization of one application over WAN Capacity Planning another. Being able to control only Ethernet traffic inside the router does not allow network professionals to see Two key aspects of an Enterprise’s WAN deployment how the router is shaping – or “policing” – the injection of are resource planning and monitoring. WAN resources like T1 or DS3 links are typically only deployed after www.networkgeneral.com
  • 5. Optimizing Wide Area Network Performance Leveraging Sniffer InfiniStream across the Enterprise some capacity planning has been done. Capacity InfiniStream enables users to quickly identify planning should review the applications that will be configuration errors and their associated QoS class level. running over the WAN link and evaluate the network performance necessary for their successful operation. In addition, Sniffer InfiniStream provides performance Additionally, once WAN resources have been purchased analysis for Layer 3 VPN MPLS network segments, and deployed, it is important to understand if they are increasing reliability and scalability for complex, traffic- being used as planned. If the service provider SLAs are engineered network environments. not met, or a rogue application is siphoning bandwidth, mission-critical business applications will suffer and the WAN/ATM SuperTAP facilitates WAN analysis enterprise will not get full benefit of their WAN Sniffer InfiniStream includes a rack-mountable expenditures. Traditionally, both the planning and WAN/ATM SuperTAP chassis. Its innovative design monitoring of WANs was a time consuming and enables WAN traffic to be analyzed with the ease and expensive proposition for network capacity planning specificity of Ethernet traffic. SuperTAP is designed to engineers. Now, Network General’s InfiniStream translate a variety of WAN packet formats (physical layer streamlines this activity. and encapsulation mechanisms) into a common (“unified”) format for InfiniStream – which it then stores in Sniffer InfiniStream arms you with the tools to easily and a native WAN packet. cost-effectively perform predictive analysis based upon your own real-world data, providing more accurate and Sniffer InfiniStream offers ease of use features including timely solutions. Due to the complexity and tedious a front panel LCD display and keypad that enables nature of the process, once a WAN solution was critical system configuration without using a keyboard, deployed, it was rare that anyone went back and video monitor, and mouse and a removable Media TAP reviewed how the resources were performing. Now, with unit, which enables the WAN or ATM topology-specific InfiniStream’s 24x7 monitoring and built-in intelligence analysis described above. you can quickly and cost-effectively look back at any point and understand how your WAN was performing Advanced protocol decodes and Expert analysis and isolate any problems, be they rogue applications on your network or failings in the service provider’s level of Leveraging nearly two decades of experience in service. This proactive approach provides developing protocol decodes, Sniffer InfiniStream can unprecedented capability to plan and manage your WAN decipher the latest application and routing protocols and resources, ensuring continued mission-critical identify key protocol metrics including PIM and IGMP application performance. Multicast protocols. It also analyzes the widest breadth of active network and application protocols in the Optimizing the performance of WAN networks industry, such as Voice over IP, Citrix ICA, MS Exchange, FIX, MPLS, and Oracle database traffic. Expert analysis provides in-depth knowledge of flows As previously discussed, enterprises are increasingly and the most complete detection of network and relying on the WAN for their mission critical application anomalies. All major protocol decodes and applications – optimizing these key, high-cost network Expert analysis families are included in the software. segments is crucial to business success. Sniffer InfiniStream provides a comprehensive set of LAN-to- As part of the Sniffer family of network performance WAN instrumentation to gain total visibility at any given analysis products, Sniffer InfiniStream integrates with point in the network. WAN topologies and protocols Sniffer Enterprise Management Solutions, providing supported include DS3, HSSI and ATM. resource management to lower cost of ownership, and baseline visualization for capacity planning and trend For sensitive applications such as VoIP, identifying the analysis. type of service/class of service (ToS/CoS) bits ensures the correct prioritization of key applications. Sniffer www.networkgeneral.com
  • 6. Optimizing Wide Area Network Performance Leveraging Sniffer InfiniStream across the Enterprise Application Snapshot mission-critical resource and better understand the efficacy of their spending on WAN circuits. In an effort to reduce cost and complexity of their enterprise communications environment, a network Sniffer InfiniStream presents an extremely flexible, manager plans to converge voice trunking requirements powerful platform for analyzing WAN traffic with the ease onto the enterprise IP network. A new VoIP trunking of Ethernet data, allowing network professionals to configuration is planned between two private branch leverage their existing expertise with Network General exchange (PBX) devices, leveraging an existing IP over solutions into the WAN domain. The WAN/ATM ATM (IP/ATM) virtual circuit (VC) between these two SuperTAP components of Sniffer InfiniStream are major sites. This circuit was deemed appropriate compatible with previous versions of the solution’s because ATM is known to provide low-latency WAN hardware, presenting a cost-effective growth path that, switching. for the first time, allows network professionals to see inside the opaque “cloud” of WAN networks. The network manager chose to use Network General’s Sniffer InfiniStream as part of his overall planning and About Network General deployment. With Sniffer InfiniStream, the network manager can investigate the circuit’s behavior in more Network General™ Corporation is the global leader in detail – including gathering operational information on a providing dashboard to packet solutions for enterprise per-Virtual Circuit basis. For this particular VoIP rollout application and network performance analysis. The his management activities included: Network General portfolio consists of innovative software solutions and intelligent appliances that span the entire 1. Prior to VoIP deployment, verification of the range of application performance management including existing application demand and overall network devices, applications, and servers. Sniffer utilization of the ATM connection between the Enterprise Solutions provide IT professionals with an two sites to ensure proper planning for additional end-to-end correlated view of performance and VoIP requirements (that is, bandwidth, class of availability of critical business services and the service identification, a VoIP-specific virtual underlying network infrastructure. Supporting the widest circuit, and so on) range of network topologies in the industry, Network 2. When the company deploys the VoIP application, General delivers breakthrough technology solutions that measure, validate, and document that the ATM focus on the intersection of the application and the circuit is providing appropriate service delivery network for comprehensive real-time monitoring, for all applications (both data and voice). analysis, and reporting across the enterprise. 3. Ongoing monitoring to generate both reports and alarms that will isolate if, when, and why the For more information on Network General solutions and ATM circuit is or is not delivering VoIP and other business services as intended. services, please visit our web site at 4. Using retrospective analysis to investigate any WWW.NETWORKGENERAL.COM, or call us at 1-800-764- real or perceived “network” problems associated 3337 or 1-408-571-5000. with the ATM network – all the way down to a packet-by-packet level. Network General 170 E. Tasman Drive San Jose, CA 95134 800.SNIFFER (800.764.3337) Summary WWW.NETWORKGENERAL.COM As the performance and cost of wide area networks Network General, InfiniStream, Sniffer “Empower, Simplify and Protect”, and the Network come under increasing scrutiny, many enterprises are General logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of network General Corporation and/or choosing to monitor and manage the performance of its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. Only Network General makes Sniffer® brand products. their WANs. By “policing” WAN performance, All other registered and unregistered trademarks herein are the sole property of their companies can gain new levels of control over this respective owners. © 2006 NETWORK GENERAL CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. www.networkgeneral.com