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What can the NetTAP Network Packet Broker(NPB) do for you?

What can the NetTAP Network Packet Broker(NPB) do for you?

A Network Packet Broker (NPB) is a network device designed to optimize the visibility and management of network traffic. It acts as a central distribution point for network traffic, allowing network administrators to capture, filter, aggregate, and distribute packets to various monitoring and security tools.

The primary function of an NPB is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of network monitoring and security operations. It accomplishes this by providing the following capabilities:


1. Traffic aggregation: NPBs can aggregate network traffic from multiple network links or segments into a single output stream. This consolidation enables monitoring tools to receive a comprehensive view of network traffic without the need for individual connections to each network segment.


2. Traffic filtering: NPBs can filter network traffic based on various criteria, such as source/destination IP addresses, protocols, ports, or specific application traffic. By selectively forwarding relevant packets to the monitoring tools, NPBs help reduce the processing load on those tools and improve their efficiency.


3. Load balancing: NPBs can distribute network traffic evenly across multiple monitoring tools to ensure optimal utilization of resources. This feature helps prevent tool overload and enables scalability in high-traffic environments.


4. Packet slicing and masking: NPBs can modify packets by removing or obfuscating sensitive information before forwarding them to monitoring tools. This capability ensures compliance with privacy regulations and protects sensitive data from being exposed to unauthorized personnel.


5. Packet deduplication: NPBs can eliminate duplicate packets from the network traffic stream, reducing the processing load on monitoring tools and optimizing their performance.


6. Advanced packet processing: NPBs may offer additional features like protocol decapsulation, SSL decryption, packet timestamping, packet header modification, and packet payload analysis. These capabilities enhance the monitoring and analysis capabilities of the connected tools.


The Network Packet Broker (NPB) can offer several benefits and capabilities to network administrators and organizations.


Capability/Benefit Description
Enhanced network visibility Provides comprehensive visibility into network traffic by capturing and aggregating packets from various network links or segments.
Efficient network monitoring Filters and forwards relevant packets to monitoring tools, optimizing their usage and preventing tool overload.
Improved network security Directs network traffic to security tools (e.g., IDS, IPS, firewalls) for enhanced threat detection and incident response.
Load balancing and scalability Distributes network traffic across multiple monitoring or security tools, ensuring workload balance and supporting scalability.
Packet manipulation and optimization Offers advanced packet processing capabilities (e.g., slicing, masking, timestamping) to tailor packet data for specific analysis needs and improve tool efficiency.
Compliance and privacy Helps meet compliance requirements by removing or obfuscating sensitive information from packets, safeguarding data and ensuring privacy.
Network troubleshooting and analysis Assists in network issue identification and resolution by capturing and analyzing network traffic, enabling effective troubleshooting and problem resolution.
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Why Network Switch can NOT replace the Network Packet Broker functions?
Because, they are two different devices used in computer networks, although they serve distinct purposes.


Network Switch:
A network switch is a fundamental networking device that operates at Layer 2 (Data Link Layer) or Layer 3 (Network Layer) of the OSI model. It is responsible for forwarding data packets between devices within a local area network (LAN). The primary function of a network switch is to examine the destination MAC (Media Access Control) address of incoming network packets and make decisions on how to forward them to the appropriate destination. Switches provide efficient and reliable data transmission by creating dedicated communication paths between connected devices.


Network Packet Broker:
A network packet broker (NPB) is a specialized device designed to optimize the visibility and management of network traffic. It operates at higher layers of the OSI model, typically at Layers 4-7 (Transport, Session, Presentation, and Application Layers). The main purpose of an NPB is to intelligently capture, filter, aggregate, and distribute network traffic to various monitoring and security tools for analysis. NPBs provide advanced features such as packet filtering, load balancing, traffic replication, protocol stripping, and SSL decryption to enhance network monitoring and security capabilities.


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