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Ixia’s Virtual Visibility with ControlTower and OpenFlow

Ixia is announcing support for OpenFlow SDN in Ixia’s ControlTower architecture. Our best-in-breed Visibility Architecture now extends data center visibility by taking advantage of a plethora of qualified OpenFlow hardware.

ControlTower is our innovative platform for distributed visibility launched nearly two years ago. This solution manages a cluster of our Net Tool Optimizers (NTOs) as if you were managing a single logical NTO. At the time of its launch, we leveraged Software Defined Networking (SDN) concepts to achieve powerful distributed monitoring for data centers and campus networks. The drag and drop GUI, advanced packet processing, and patented filter compiler allow multiple users to manage and optimize traffic across the cluster without interfering with each other. We had great response from customers to the ControlTower concept; they loved how we took very complex routing and rules calculation problems and boiled them down to an easy-to-use, single-pane-of-glass GUI (or API) even when spanning across multiple NTOs.

Our announcement takes ControlTower one giant leap further by allowing qualified OpenFlow switches to become members of a ControlTower cluster, incorporating them under one powerful and simple management console, extending powerful network visibility capabilities throughout the data center. You don’t need to be an OpenFlow expert, just hook up your OpenFlow switches and we take care of the complicated management. You get all the benefits of our straightforward GUI and advanced features for the entire cluster.

We heard from many customers that scalable, cost-effective network visibility is critical to operating a secure and high performance data center. They need analytics tools that access any segment of the network quickly and easily. Monitored traffic must be filtered and optimized to ensure tools are used efficiently. Customers need to focus on optimizing application performance and heading off security issues in every part of their data center, not managing switch ACL’s, CLI’s, forwarding rulesets, interconnects, etc.

Ixia responded by enhancing ControlTower to recognize OpenFlow devices, allowing customers to scale our powerful visibility features across hundreds of OpenFlow ports. Today, ControlTower is qualified to work with HP, Dell, and Arista OpenFlow switches—and we will expand the list further in the future.

This addition to the ControlTower platform is exciting for several reasons:

  • The powerful advanced features of ControlTower can now be applied across more of your network for greater visibility.
  • You don’t need to be conversant in OpenFlow or deploy an SDN controller, we take care of all the complexity in managing the OpenFlow switches. Just hook them up and our clever software takes control of the configuration details.
  • We provide RESTful API for integration with automation.
  • You can apply features such as Dynamic Filters, Packet Deduplication, ATIP (Application Threat Intelligence Processor), TimeStamping, Packet Trimming, and Traffic Shaping to any traffic in the cluster.
  • OpenFlow is ubiquitous with Ethernet switch vendors, presenting tremendous range of deployment options
  • OpenFlow helps future proof your visibility architecture by incorporating future developments in speed, density and capacity.
  • You have the flexibility to share precious switching hardware and rack space between production and visibility networks.
  • You can easily partition a switch, with some OpenFlow ports for network visibility and some ports for normal production traffic. The production partition doesn’t even need to run OpenFlow, it can be a basic L2 Ethernet switch!
  • You can easily provision more visibility ports dynamically as your network expands or changes.
  • Ixia’s extensive OpenFlow expertise enabled us to make this advancement. Ixia was first in the testing of OpenFlow technologies with our IxNetwork product several years ago, and we have been very active in development of the OpenFlow standard.

Customers who have seen this new feature set have been very excited. ControlTower’s OpenFlow capabilities will help them reach all the corners of their data center, and provide a new flexibility to deploy network resources how they wish with all benefits of an end-to-end Network Visibility Architecture.

Additional Resources:

NTO ControlTower

Network Visibility Architecture

Thanks to Ixia for the article. 

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