You might have read our comments in CIO Zone this month discussing the one true Christmas wish of every network manager we've ever encountered. Forget socks, banish all thoughts of a Mythbusters DVD box-set, because what the network manager in your life really wants is a network performance management system that gives them integrated monitoring, alerts, troubleshooting, and analysis.
And at the core of this most coveted of Christmas gifts is NetFlow. You probably don't need us to tell you that NetFlow is no new kid on the block. In the twelve-plus years since Cisco introduced its IP traffic flow monitoring capability, it has grown to become one of the most widely adopted technologies for managing the huge array of devices and interfaces employed by enterprise-grade networks today.
Functional, inexpensive to implement, and highly scalable, the NetFlow approach to traffic analysis is a popular alternative to packet-sniffing systems since it has the ability to focus on network traffic accounting – examining information about flows of packets instead of their content. It's easy to get dragged down by packet-based monitoring solutions that require probes for each node on a network. It's far more likely that Santa Claus will be getting a letter asking for a solution that will monitor the most complex global networks, encompassing tens of thousands of interfaces, with fewer than a dozen appliances.
Network managers really aren't hard to shop for— they know what they like, and they know what they need: a solution for network performance monitoring, reporting, and troubleshooting, which reduces the time required to identify and resolve network issues impacting business productivity, while at the same time providing global, scalable, integrated SNMP and NetFlow monitoring. Moreover, they demand as much detail as possible from a flow-based solution. Many legacy tools deny them the opportunity to really dissect NetFlow fields and extract sufficient information.
Now, whether old Saint Nick can fit this under the tree is a different matter, but considering that all of this can be provided at a fraction of the cost of a packet-based monitoring solution, maybe it's not too much to ask for this year?