As organizations continue to consolidate data centers and increase their use of virtual server environments, data center networks are rapidly growing in size and complexity. Plus, due to increasing throughput from greater Virtual Machine (VM) densities on physical servers, organizations are also converting to 10Gb Ethernet networks while consumerization of IT, increasing mobility, and rich content applications continue to drive more traffic through campus networks.
In aggregate, these unstoppable trends have had a profound impact on network traffic. Aside from an overall traffic volume increase, today's networks are fraught with granular security requirements, layers of segmentation, bursty communication protocols, and latency-sensitive applications. To address these network performance, security, and operations needs, large organizations are implementing an assortment of management tools to improve network monitoring and centralize command-and-control.
Historically, management tools connected to networks via SPAN/mirror ports or external taps but even this approach may be reaching a scalability ceiling. As a result, some organizations are leveraging a relatively new type of technology that ESG calls an Intelligent Management Aggregation Network (iMAN), sometimes referred to as a matrix switch or Traffic Visibility Network (TVN). An iMAN works by connecting into network equipment via SPAN/mirror ports or network taps, captures network behavior, provides middleware services (i.e., publish/subscribe) for management tools, and finally distributes data to analysis tools like application performance management (APM), network performance management (NPM), intrusion detection software (IDS)/intrusion prevention software (IPS) and packet capture.
Conceptually, iMAN makes a lot of sense, but thus far it has been a niche market. Given the pace and scope of networking changes, however, it is possible that iMAN could become far more pervasive in the future. So how will the iMAN market evolve? To answer this question, ESG surveyed 160 IT professionals responsible for networking technologies at enterprise organizations (i.e., 1,000 or more employees) in North America. Survey respondents were asked a series of questions about network growth, management challenges, existing solutions, and remaining issues.
ESG published a brief that highlights the findings of that research in order to better forecast the future of iMAN adoption in the enterprise market. To learn more about the research and iMANs, read the full brief here (ESG Premium content subscription required).
You can read Bob's other blog entries at Data Center Continuum.