Network packet brokers (NPB) are a network and security practitioner’s best friend. Within Gartner, NPB’s are covered by Vivek Bhalla and Jonah Kowall, but they come up in my client interactions as well (we’re talking networking, after-all). So while Jonah and Vivek are discussing tooling strategy, differentiation between NPB producs, which solutions match specific usage scenarios, etc….however a lot of the comments on my calls regarding NPB are along the lines of:
“...yeah we looked at that, it was nice, but when we saw the cost, we just didn’t have the budget and/or cannot cost-justify it…”
or a slight variation
“..we deployed them but only in certain parts of the network because it was too expensive…“
However, in recent years, some very cost-effective solutions have emerged in the market, enabled by new approaches to delivering NPB offered by networking switching vendors. For example, Arista bakes NPB functionality into its switching operating system (EOS) via a feature called DANZ, while Big Switch Networks has an SDN-based application called Big Tap that runs on their controller. These solutions provide basic NPB functionality at a very attractive price point. Other network vendors are getting in on the action too, including Cisco via its Monitor Manager SDN app and startup Pluribus Networks‘ with their “inNetwork Analytics” offering.
I would recommend you check out the Market Guide for Network Packet Brokers that we just published for a deeper dive into this technology, it is a must-read for networking and security folks.
Summary: The network packet broker market, while mature, remains fragmented. I&O leaders should use this market guide to gain insight into vendor strategies, and how to evaluate and select NPBs to meet their technical and budgetary requirements.
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