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This article is part of our Buyer's Guide: A comprehensive review of network performance monitors

Viavi Observer: Network performance monitor overview

With deployable hardware and software probes, Viavi Observer is known as one of the most robust network performance monitors in the market today.

Editor's note: This Viavi Observer product overview is part of a series on network performance monitoring. The series also explores the evolution of network monitoring technology, discusses the major use cases, lays out the major purchasing criteria and compares the leading vendors on the market.

Viavi Solutions Inc. acquired the Observer network performance monitoring (NPM) platform when the company purchased Network Instruments in late 2013. Viavi Observer is widely known as one of the most robust and in-depth performance monitors available today. Furthermore, the addition of the Observer GigaStor product -- a retrospective analysis tool -- is a great way to go back in time and replay network events where performance problems were witnessed. This allows network administrators to identify the root cause of problems and fix them in a timely manner. And finally, Viavi Observer is also known for its distributed hardware and software probes and TAPs -- deployable hardware devices -- that can be strategically placed throughout a network infrastructure. These devices can be used to monitor the infrastructure and collect flow data and packet captures to provide multiple vantage points when isolating areas where performance is lagging.

Viavi Observer NPM platform

The Observer platform consists of multiple components. Observer Matrix and Observer TAPs are the products used to collect monitoring, flow and packet captures throughout the network infrastructure. Once the data is collected, it is sent to the appropriate server for data analysis. There are four different data analysis products in the Observer platform: Observer Analyzer, Observer GigaStor, Observer Probes and Observer SightOps. Analyzed data is then sent to the Observer Apex appliance to serve as a single, unified dashboard from which administrators can access all NPM analytics, alerts and reports. The overall platform is a mixture of hardware appliances and bare-metal or virtual servers that run on the Windows OS. Let's break out each Viavi Observer component to understand its role in the overall NPM architecture.

Observer Apex: All the analytics and intelligence collected and processed from the lower-level servers are sent to the Apex appliance to serve as a centralized location for gathering information about network performance.

Observer Analyzer: This product is the workhorse of the bunch. It combines network monitoring and alerting with features such as application analysis, flow collection and data stream reconstruction.

Observer GigaStor: For companies that require large-scale and continuous capturing of packet data, the GigaStor product can assist in the storing and analysis of collected data both from a performance and security perspective.

Observer Probes: Viavi Observer Probes are typically deployed in a distributed fashion at remote sites where advanced flow collection and analysis is required. All data is analyzed and aggregated back to the Observer Apex for centralized management.

Observer SightOps: SightOps is an automation tool used to intelligently group network devices to track performance and show how misconfigurations or failures of components may affect the overall network.

Observer Matrix: Matrix is essentially a network switch that doubles as a monitoring device and traffic preprocessor for the entire Observer platform. This product is intended for large networks that collect massive amounts of data.

Observer TAPs: TAPs are remotely deployed hardware devices that duplicate observed network data and send it back to Analyzer or GigaStor for packet analysis and storage. There are multiple TAPs available for things, such as copper or fiber optic cable, and aggregation TAPs to streamline data transfers back to packet analysis servers.

Pricing and support

All Viavi Observer products must be purchased through an authorized partner. The final price depends largely on the size of your network and what features you choose to implement and enable.

Viavi provides three different support plan options for customers, ranging from basic phone, email and web support to customized services that include dedicated advice and consulting.

Next Steps

Learn how network analytics and monitoring can help you solve service issues.

Take a deeper dive into network management tools that can help prepare for SDN.

Learn more about how network availability monitoring works in concert with NPM.

This was last published in July 2016

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