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WildPackets 2014 Predictions - The virtual blind spot is coming. Are you ready?

VMblog 2014 Prediction Series

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2014.  Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed article by Jay Botelho, Director of Product Management at WildPackets

The virtual blind spot is coming. Are you ready?

In 2013, organizations saw the proliferation of virtualization as well as an increase in higher speed networks, forcing them to reevaluate how they manage and monitor their IT infrastructure. As a result, we predict 2014 will be the year of the "virtual blind spot," areas of application traffic that never cross a physical network interface.

Traditional network and application management relies on data from physical network components, like routers, switches, and in-line, dedicated analysis appliances. Network traffic that is completely contained within a virtual infrastructure, for example, the communication between an application server and a database, remains hidden from these traditional NPM and APM solutions, leaving network engineers, IT managers, and application engineers in the dark when problems arise.

Causes

These virtual blind spots are the result of applications communicating with each other without ever accessing a physical network port. This traffic never leaves the virtual machine, and there is no practical way to monitor or manage this internal virtual network traffic.

Because of these virtual blind spots, we predict organizations will begin investing in network and application management solutions for their virtual environments.

Solutions

Solutions vary for eliminating virtual blind spots, based on the complexity of the virtual environment. For stand-alone virtual servers, a software probe that runs as one of the virtualized applications is often enough to capture and analyze the traffic across the entire virtual server, offering a cost-effective solution to eliminate blind spots within the server. For more complex systems consisting of multiple servers or blades across a virtual backbone, a dedicated network analysis appliance is the best solution for gaining visibility into the entire virtual system. If the virtual system is capable of spanning virtual switch ports, enabling this feature will allow the network analysis appliance to directly connect to the virtual network traffic. If not, third-party virtual taps can be used to tap the virtual traffic and make it available to external network analysis appliances.

While the virtual blind spot will become a reality in 2014, the good news is that there are solutions for organizations to avoid the pitfalls. Virtual taps are sold by many tap vendors, and they provide a physical link between traditional network monitoring appliances and virtual systems.

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About the Author

Jay Botelho is the Director of Product Management at WildPackets, Inc., a leading network analysis solutions provider for networks of all sizes and topologies. Jay holds an MSEE, and is an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience in product management, product marketing, program management and complex analysis. From the first mobile computers developed by GRiD Systems to modern day network infrastructure systems, Jay has been instrumental in setting corporate direction, specifying requirements for industry-leading hardware and software products, and growing product sales through targeted product marketing.
Published Monday, December 16, 2013 6:59 AM by David Marshall
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