In today’s ever-connected world, the role that the company network plays in keeping a business’ IT assets running cannot be gainsaid. The network facilitates effective communication between clients, monitoring devices, security devices, and the IT leaders. As a result, it makes sense for business leaders to ensure that their network is always available, especially considering that only 2% of organizations manage to recover from a period of downtime within an hour, according to the Liquid Web website.
Network visibility happens to be one of the most valuable resources that an IT department has when it comes to identifying issues with their infrastructure from a mile away. It helps them to have a clear grasp of the health of their network assets and understand how certain tweaks will affect the network. Luckily, virtual taps might just be the solution you need to have optimal visibility in your virtual environments.
Here is a guide on the benefits of using virtual taps and how to make the right choices:
What Are Virtual Taps?
Virtual taps are software-based solutions which facilitate the monitoring of the flow of information and data between VMs. This provides some level of visibility to east and west VM traffic while mirroring it. The copied data can then be sent to monitoring tools, either physical or virtual, for analysis. Simply put, virtual taps improve the visibility within virtual environments which tends to have a higher chance of having blind spots when compared to physical environments.
The collected data can then provide IT professionals with information concerning the security of their virtual assets or any performance loopholes that need to be addressed. For instance, network taps might easily identify an issue with your virtual servers that will easily result in the harm of your free syslog server. Acting on this information in good time will help you avoid the consequences of some downtime.
Why Visibility is an Issue in Virtual Environments?
Virtual environments tend to be more complicated to manage and IT experts have only recently started developing technology to change this. In most cases, relying on physical technology to monitor these environments might tend to be possible, but it might not be as efficient as you might need. While hypervisor tends to come bundled with tools that can easily facilitate this task, most of these tools are only enough to cater to a single hypervisor. Furthermore, they may not be interoperable with other hypervisors.
The Benefits of Using Virtual Taps
With the increased reliance on virtual environments, most businesses have virtualized more than 75% of their data centers, according to Information Week. This rate is only expected to increase since it is relatively easy to launch VMs and other assets in the virtual environment than it is in the physical world.
This makes the need for reliable virtual assets even more pronounced. The downside is that virtual assets are prone to performance issues and security threats. Here is how network tapping improves this situation:
- Regulatory Compliance – In some heavily regulated industries, companies require to present certain data about their network to the regulatory bodies. This includes the data that is found both on their physical and virtual servers. Network taps allow such organizations to copy the data on the virtual servers and consolidate it in one platform to make access to the data easier when auditing periods arrive.
- Reduction of Performance Issues – An ailing virtual environment can be a big issue for your organization. It can easily take your application and IT assets offline, and the cost of reversing this situation is quite high. This improves the need to continually analyze the performance of your IT infrastructure and your entire network. The kind of visibility that network taps provide is valuable when it comes to predictive analysis. IT leaders can study the performance trends of their various IT assets and form baseline performance metrics. If any asset seems to be deviating from the expected levels of performance, then such early identification can be vital in eliminating the chances of experiencing some downtime.
- Security Threat Identification – It is never enough to invest in virtualization without putting into consideration the need for strong security measures. As much as virtual environments provide a benefit galore to the organization, they can easily turn into the best platform of attack by hackers. The more complex you set up your virtual infrastructure, the easier it becomes for hackers to gain access to your valuable assets.
The trick is to ensure that you implement the same level of optimized security when launching any virtual asset. With virtual network taps by your side, you can easily monitor how the assets are doing and identify any intrusions that can be detrimental to the infrastructure. This can be quite helpful, especially if hackers engineer commonly known viruses to fit the virtual world.
Choosing the Right Virtual Taps
All virtual taps will typically do the same thing – improve the virtual environment visibility. However, not all taps are made the same. Here are a few considerations when choosing those that will work best for your organization:
- Multi-Hypervisor Support – Hypervisor compatibility should be a priority when selecting your network tap. In most cases, it is wise to choose those that are compatible with more than one of the most common hypervisors. While you might only use a single hypervisor, the fact that you might need to diversify in the future should not be ignored. This will give you some form of flexibility instead of having to invest in another network tap.
- Impact on Performance – A good virtual tap should not cause too much stress on your virtual assets. It should not add a significant load to your VM or CPU or even lead to a decline in performance. The best options will be those that can filter the data they mirror. This way, you will avoid burdening your resources with the extra 50% or 100% of mirrored data.
- Consolidation of Virtual Tap Access – Once you have installed all the virtual taps that you need, you might require viewing them from a consolidated platform. Accessing the taps from siloed platforms typically limits productivity while at the same time reducing visibility. When evaluating the different vendors, it is always vital to ensure that you choose vendors who can grant you the ability to access your taps from a single platform. This will include the taps monitoring VMs and those on your virtual servers. Other than this increased visibility, it will also be more cost efficient when compared to having to access different siloed screens to assess the health of your network.
- Consider Scalability – With time, you might expect your organization to grow either upwards or downwards. It is mandatory to have potent infrastructure that can do so as well. The scalability of the network taps you choose should, therefore, be a vital consideration.
They should easily manage to cope with traffic increases which can be vital in the peak season when your virtual infrastructure is being used to capacity. Additionally, it should also cater to the need to reduce this capability. In the low season, the extra capacity that the taps provide might seem like an unwanted cost to the organization.
It is the minor network inconsistencies that mean the most when it comes to preventing periods of downtime. Network taps simply give you enough insight to ensure that you do not miss even a single inconsistency. Consider the tips above to ensure that you can make the most out of the tap you choose.