With more and more users preferring high speed networks, the presence and usage of high speed networks is increasing steadily. After all, who would like to wait for a web page to load for fifty full seconds? When it comes to companies and corporate networks, speed is gaining importance like never before. The reasons for this are not too far to seek. Firstly, the reliance on networks for carrying out day-to-day business activities is ever increasing. And secondly, managing bandwidth efficiently and effectively is becoming highly challenging which the Network engineer would be well aware of. Monitoring networks operating at such a high speed is indeed not something one could take chances with. When a lot of people ranging from the top management to the middle management, from employees to customers to support staff members, located a various places spread across the globe, relying completely on these networks, a simple slow down would naturally mean not just a lost business day but affect business continuity. To avoid all of this, there are several tools that one could use for smooth conduct of business and manage bandwidth effectively.

        sFlow is a technology that is specially usable in high speed networks. An introduction to sFlow was given in the blog post titled An Introduction to sFlow technology and a brief on sFlow vs NetFlow technology . This blog primarily focuses on the importance of sFlow and the benefits it could offer to the Network Administrator.

         sFlow does packet based sampling and it is embedded within the network. A hardware probe based monitoring system would normally give on a partial view of the network, but when the monitoring solution is embedded within the switch or the router, that really helps in giving a real time view of the network. The biggest strength of sFlow is its ability to provide uninterrupted visibility into application level traffic monitoring that too at wire speed across all its interfaces. Netflow analyzer supports this flow format and gives unprecedented visibility into the network. sFlow helps in collecting vital data which is very helpful in managing the network effectively and measuring the network performace as well. This leads to effective bandwidth management and help the user with the required competitive edge. This mode of monitoring makes life really easy for a network administrator because when visibility improves, there will be a very minimum need for troubleshooting.

      As far as the benefits sFlow offers, there are a plenty of them. We would primarily focus on four of the benefits which are as follows:

1. Controlling congestion

      Real time visibility into the traffic patterns enables instant identification of congested links and the sources of traffic at those links. The associated application level conversations can also be identified through Netflow Analyzer from the sFlow information. This information is very helpful in deciding which traffic needs to be controlled and prioritizing certain business critical applications for provision of bandwidth,

2. Troubleshooting Network problems

      When the network is used, it automatically creates traffic and the patterns in raw form are very difficult to analyze. sFlow gives visibility to these abnormal traffic patterns with sufficient detail facilitating easy diagnosis and correction.

3. Security Analysis

      As the network is vulnerable to many kinds of security attacks, effective security monitoring needs complete network surveillance which is provided by sFlow. By giving visibility into real-time and historical network-wide usage anomalies could be detected thereby safeguarding the network from possible attacks.

4. Accounting and billing usage

      sFlow provides detailed information about network usage and this helps in providing customers a detailed and itemized breakdown of the total traffic thereby improving their confidence levels on the service provider as the billing mechanism becomes very fair and transparent. This feature provides maximum advantage to the service provider.

      Apart from these, there are several other benefits which we would deal with in future. Netflow Analyzer offers support for sFlow format and as a Network Engineer, one could get the full benefit of sFlow technology to ensure a hassle free network. You can download a 30 day trail of Netflow Analyzer(all features included) here.

Warm regards

Sai Sundhar

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