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WildPackets enhances network monitoring tools with big data analytics

Enterprises need network monitoring tools that deliver real-time, actionable data. WildPackets delivers with big data analytics in WatchPoint 3.0.

WildPackets is giving enterprises both a historical and real-time view of its network with WatchPoint 3.0. The new version of WildPackets' network performance monitoring tool will make it easier for network administrators to act on performance data immediately using big data analytics.

Enterprise networks are becoming more complex, and IT needs network monitoring tools that offer a view of their entire environment -- not just a snapshot. WatchPoint 3.0 works in collaboration with existing network performance analysis appliances -- such as real-time network traffic monitoring and network traffic recording tools -- to combine both a real-time view of the network and long-term analysis. Big data technology allows IT to spot trends and deviations in their networks over time, while the real-time network flow and packet analysis data can help administrators take action immediately to smooth out any bottlenecks before users notice.

"WatchPoint 3.0 connects information from many other data collection tools and serves as a platform that makes the most of that information for IT," said Bojan Simic, president and principal analyst for Stoneham, Mass.-based TRAC Research. "This tool makes other network monitoring tools much more valuable and puts the data in perspective so IT can solve problems."

Enterprises need proactive network monitoring tools

WatchPoint 3.0 offers one aggregated view of network performance data of other WildPackets network monitoring tools, or third-party vendor tools. The offering can record and archive the statistics being generated by those tools in place for up to a year without sampling or averaging data, said Jay Botelho, director of product management for Walnut Creek, Calif.-based WildPackets.

"Products today are handling network analysis and troubleshooting [for events that happened] within the last few days because only so many packets can be recorded," Botelho said. WatchPoint captures and stores traffic information on a long-term basis, and the addition of big data analytics allows IT to extract detailed and actionable data. The influx of information coming in has traditionally restricted IT to a punctuated network view based on averages or sampling.

While businesses need to understand network performance over time, WatchPoint 3.0 also delivers a single view of network health, application trends and business activity as it happens. The network performance analysis tool can summarize data from NetFlow and sFlow-supported devices, as well as OmniFlow data generated by WildPackets OmniEngine network probes with built-in, real-time network analysis, Botelho said. "WatchPoint can display a very tight link between the display of data that is mined from the big data logged and any detail that an [IT administrator] may need on a particular network segment," he said.

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Many enterprises don't have tools that can both identify and prevent problems on the network, because many network monitoring tools are not proactive. "IT can see problems before they might happen because they will have that historical data, and if they see something reoccurring, it can be analyzed to make sure it won't happen again -- that has more value than just being able to fix the problem," TRAC's Simic said.

A large financial services firm and WildPackets customer that requested anonymity uses WatchPoint to monitor its application network utilization. The enterprise is enjoying having both packet capture and NetFlow data in a single view with custom application definitions -- a format that makes sense to IT.

"Our capacity planning decisions are now made based on real-world application traffic requirements," the firm said. "With these capabilities, WatchPoint has become one of the essential tools that our team uses to troubleshoot and identify network utilization problems [and] trends."

Network performance analysis with big data

Sifting through a year's worth of network performance analysis is a daunting task for any network manager looking for performance trends. IT has to be able to extract and act on the right data, and big data analytics technology has made it easier for IT to search for and retrieve information.

Eighty-one percent of enterprises claim the amount of network performance data they deal with has increased over the past year, according to a recent global survey of over 600 enterprises by TRAC. Even though data amounts have increased, performance has not, Simic said.

"[Network data] should be put in a format that [IT] can actually do something with it, as opposed to having to sort through tens of thousands of data points to find exactly what they need to know," he said. "[Data] has to be presented in the right way so it can be used to solve problems," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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