We recently sponsored a joint webinar with Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) and Cisco titled, Why Flexible NetFlow is a Must Have for Network Management in 2011. I want to take some time to dig deeper into one of the points discussed and that is the increased application awareness that Flexible NetFlow provides.
Historically as we all know, NetFlow provides a good understanding of traffic running across the network, basically who was talking to whom and how much bandwidth were they using. This is useful and necessary data, but it does not provide all the information a network manager needs to improve or even optimize the network for the applications that are using it. Because key information like latency, and QoS tags are missing, we had to look to technologies like deep packet inspection and super agents to fill the gap. Network managers then had to manually or visually correlate across tools to get a complete view of what users were experiencing and what other traffic was impacting the quality of their experience. This was and still is costly and at times difficult to implement and maintain.
With the introduction of Flexible NetFlow, additional application detail is now available through the use of variable or flexible fields. One example highlighted in our webinar was the addition of per flow quality metrics in Cisco medianet performance monitor. Medianet peformance monitor has not only been able to include QoS with traditional flow data, but it has added key voice and video performance indicators like latency, jitter and packet loss to the actual flows produced by media aware network gear. By leveraging flexible fields in NetFlow v9, Medianet peformance monitor provides data that typically requires polling or separate tools to obtain. After all, the network routes the traffic; why not use it to provide deeper application awareness? This substantially closes the gap with packet-based instrumentation, and therefore it can dramatically reduce overall management costs, while accelerating a network manager's ability to optimize and improve the network in support of key business applications. Network managers can now gain this valuable insight from one place like the SevOne Dedicated NetFlow Collector network performance management solution.