Network forensics appliance gets storage boost and 10 GbE support

Shamus McGillicuddy
Network forensics appliance vendor WildPackets has added full-duplex 10 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) capture and analysis and high-end storage capabilities to its latest product.

The Omnipliance SuperCore features up to 64 terabytes (TB) of local storage and supports storage area networks (SANs), giving medium-sized companies virtually unlimited long-term storage of network activity. The previous storage ceiling for the Omnipliance portfolio was 8 TB.

The Omnipliance portfolio captures packets that traverse the network and provides real-time and post-capture

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analysis, allowing network engineers to troubleshoot immediate network problems and analyze long-term network issues.

"The Omnipliance SuperCore is focused on companies that need to store their network traffic long-term, usually for being able to go back and do network forensics on traffic," said Tony Barbagallo, vice president of marketing for WildPackets.

Barbagallo said high-capacity storage for network forensics data is essential for compliance. It is also useful for network-dependent companies that value reliability, he said. For instance, many companies might think nothing of a five-minute outage that happened over the weekend. But some will want to get to the bottom of the issue. "Was there a problem or not? Customers in the financial community and other large enterprises -- the network being down five minutes actually matters to them. So being able to figure out why that happened is very important," Barbagallo said.

The SuperCore features a purpose-built card that captures 10 GbE traffic, he said. The card filters out noise such as error packets so that the appliance's CPU isn't overwhelmed by the amount of information that comes through such high-speed networks.

Dennis Drogseth, vice president of Enterprise Management Associates, said the new SuperCore offers companies with faster network transport and complex applications the ability to diagnose network issues quickly. It will also allow companies to analyze a wider range of information.

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Drogseth said WildPackets' products have the potential to expand beyond basic network monitoring into other IT functions, but so far the company has remained focused on the network professional. So network pros who find their responsibilities expanding into mission-critical application performance may find the next appliance useful.

"WildPackets has a very versatile, deployable solution that is still very centered in use with network engineers," Drogseth said. "It is well suited to tackle the rising requirements to monitor network performance in context with application delivery [including VoIP], but it has focused so far very much on the network user."

David Junker, Internetwork engineer for Nebraska-based telecom Great Plains Communications, uses an earlier version of the Omnipliance to track IP traffic at the packet level for his company's customers.

"Customers' packets tell us what is going on in our network," Junker said. "We can check for viruses, worms, etc., to see who might be infected and whether they are spreading the problem to others. We have had many instances where we've been able to trace infected computers and servers before they had a chance to spread throughout our entire network."

Junker said his company doesn't specifically have a need for the high storage capacity of the SuperCore. Great Plains currently stores traffic for specific customers only when it is looking for the source of a problem. However, if the company did need to capture all network traffic, the SAN support on the SuperCore would be essential.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Editor

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