Gigamon Steps Up Traffic Intelligence

Dan O'Shea
News Analysis
Dan O'Shea, Analyst, Heavyreading.com
12/18/2013



Amid acquisitions in the network visibility space, notable independent Gigamon is continuing to carve its own path, announcing enhancements this week to its Unified Visibility Fabric, which, the company says, will improve the ability to monitor and manage traffic in increasingly virtualized network environments.

The new features added to the fabric Gigamon Systems LLC announced earlier this year include: adaptive packet filtering beyond Layer 4; subscriber-aware traffic flow sampling; IPv6 de-duplication; and GPRS Tunnelling Protocol (GTP) correlation for mobile broadband networks.

The general aim of these capabilities is to incorporate greater traffic intelligence into network environments where software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) creates the requirement for monitoring information to be communicated between virtual elements and physical testing tool infrastructure, says Huy Nguyen, the company's senior director of product management. (See Gigamon Enhances Traffic Monitoring Fabric and Gigamon Intros Unified Visibility Fabric.)

"To guarantee SLAs, you need visibility into the virtual environment, and a monitoring fabric that sends the right data to the right tools whether it's dealing with physical or virtual network elements," Nguyen says.

At the same time, the migration to higher speeds such as 100G means the variety and volume of traffic moving across networks also is growing. "You've got to be able to manage big data traffic volumes and filter packet content at a deeper level to become session-aware," he adds.

That session awareness can translate to better customer experience management for individual subscribers. Gigamon's GTP correlation app helps accomplish this by filtering and forwarding the encapsulated mobile traffic streams of specific subscriber sessions. The FlowVue application directs samples of that traffic toward the most relevant management tools, while adaptive filtering of packet contents helps carriers to better identify applications and devices associated with specific subscribers.

The growing importance of network visibility with increased traffic intelligence is not lost on the broader sector, which has been consolidating of late. JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU)'s recent purchase of Network Instruments and Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA)'s acquisition of Anue Systems last year both nod toward the need for monitoring to keep up with growing network and traffic complexity. Switch and router companies such as Arista Networks Inc. , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) also have stepped up the inherent management capabilities of their own gear. Gigamon has stayed its own course through this landscape, having conducted its IPO in 2012. (See JDSU Acquires Network Instruments, Ixia Pays $145M for Anue Systems, Arista Finds Love for Network Monitoring, and 'Indie' Startup Ready for an IPO.)

"Service providers are currently limited by the capacity of their monitoring tools," says Dominick Cafarelli, Gigamon technology strategist. "There have been so many changes happening on the production side of the network recently that the tools infrastructure can't keep up. A traffic intelligence model allows providers to identify traffic [that enables them] to solve individual subscriber problems at the device level. It can also help them manage and understand how new devices being introduced to the network are performing."

That message appears to be resonating, as Gigamon reported in its third-quarter earnings results last month that it had gained 86 customers during the quarter, and that quarterly revenues had grown 52% year-over-year to $39 million. Since the IPO, Gigamon also has had a leadership change, as CEO and co-founder Ted Ho stepped aside in favor of Paul Hooper (See: Gigamon CEO Steps Down.)

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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