Increased demand on network performance is causing more IT organizations to invest in network taps, hardware devices that allow administrators to monitor the network for security, voice over IP (VoIP), network intrusion detection systems, packet sniffers, or network probe purposes.
To address the needs of organizations' higher-capacity, higher-speed networks, Net Optics Inc. today unveiled Flex Tap, a tap that can fit up to 24 taps in a 1U panel, and support 1 gigabyte, 10G, 40G, and 100G. The device can scale up to 5U, Daniel Aharon, senior director of product management, told me.
"Flex Tap is a compact fiber tap that we designed with modularity and scalability in mind. It's about having one box that holds any number of taps and is modular. We designed the box to think about the future, as well, and what customers will need," he said.
The 100-percent passive, removable device requires no power and doesn't introduce a point of failure or disrupt other network connections, according to Net Optics. Flex Tap provides organizations with around-the-clock duplex monitoring without affecting network traffic, and has limited exposure to attacks due to its lack of IP address and its isolation from the network, Aharon said. However, Flex Tap has visibility into all full duplex traffic, including Layer 1 and Layer 2 errors.
To simplify installation and support, Net Optics color-coded the taps, speeds, network ports, and monitor ports, said Aharon. And all 24 taps are on the front of Flex Tap, making it easy to plug into.
"It's mix and match. You can deploy any speed ratio your network requires. We give you 100 percent visibility for security and network monitoring tools. The color coding helps tell you which is which. We are aware of one other vendor with 24 taps and 1U: You have to connect cables on both sides of the box and can't clearly see what you are doing."
Small clients typically require about a dozen taps, while telcos may need many hundreds or thousands, said Aharon. Other big customer segments include service providers, financial organizations, test and development, and enterprises. With ever-expanding reliance on datacenters, networks, and data security, Aharon predicts the need for taps will increase across organizations of all sizes.
"I can see [demand] in a lot of technology companies, retail stores. I can see it with the health industry, the many clinics and hospitals that have very, very similar needs. I can also see it with a lot of small businesses. The difference is that in some cases, you need a little bit of education about the existence of the tap. The health industry is very aware of taps but a small store, a restaurant, may need education."
Net Optics relies on partners and a direct salesforce to reach -- and educate -- prospective clients. Historically, the 16-year-old vendor has relied on its internal sales team in the United States, primarily since this was where it debuted, Aharon said. But the company is eager to mirror its partnership successes in the US in other nations.
Certainly, insight into clients' networks and datacenters -- especially if they are implementing virtualization or cloud -- seems to make sound business sense, no matter whether they're using 1G, 40G, or 100G.