Companies that are known for innovation seem to have an uncanny sense of market timing. Network Critical invented the first permanent, flexible modular TAP about 20 years ago just when network speeds were “exploding” from 100Mbps to 1Gbps and required more constant monitoring. About five years ago, when 10Gbps, 25Gbps and 40Gbps monitoring needed simpler more accurate tool deployment and management, the company invented the Drag-n-Vu™ Graphical User Interface that changed how networks deployed tools.
Network Critical Introduces the SmartNA-PortPlus HyperCore™
Just as Network Critical perfectly timed the innovations of the early TAPs and the Drag-n-Vu™ GUI, they are at the forefront once again with the introduction of the SmartNA-PortPlus HyperCore™. The compact 1RU physical platform provides up to 32 ports of QSFP56-DD non-blocking 400Gbps access for a total throughput of 25.6 Terabytes.
Just as previous platforms focused on flexibility and simplicity, the SmartNA-PortPlus HyperCore™ builds on that philosophy for large complex networks. To allow easy connection with legacy tools, the ports can be set for 10/25/40/50/100/200 and 400Gbps speeds. Any port can be set for any speed and ports can be used for input, output or both input and output with optional cables.
Beyond pure speed, advanced packet broker features are also available with the platform. The cost saving aggregation feature allows multiple under-utilized links to be mapped to a single tool and is provided as a standard feature. Additional sophisticated features that are available include filtering that allows links to send only relevant traffic enhancing the efficiency of network tools. High speed links can send traffic to multiple lower speed legacy tools using session aware load balancing. Ultra-low latency cut-through makes this platform suitable for use in 5G environments. Reliability and availability are also built into the platform with six hot-swappable fans and two hot swappable power supplies.
The Year 2020 & A Time of Shortages
Virtually every sector of our lives has migrated from direct contact to the virtual world. This almost immediate societal sea change created a big problem for mobile carriers, enterprise networks, government services, cable TV and other network providers.
To make matters even more challenging for network providers, the world of technology is not standing still. Beyond exploding pandemic related bandwidth demand, 5G introductions, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning advances are rapidly creating additional stressors for faster backbone and transport networks.
Along with shortages of toilet paper and cleaning supplies, bandwidth is another commodity that has been in short supply. When bandwidth demand exceeds supply the carriers are faced with three options. First, they can limit access which will upset customers and likely lead to increased churn. Second, they can add more bandwidth and links which is expensive and takes time to implement. The third and seemingly final option is to utilize the existing bandwidth more efficiently while working on longer term new build solutions. The three-option limit assumes, however, that underlying technologies remain static. This is where innovation and timing come into view.
Better Faster Smaller
By embracing new, faster switching technologies, mobile carriers, cloud providers and data centers are quickly migrating from a what was very recently thought to be a blazing 100Gbps world to deploying up to 400Gbps backbones. These network upgrades can be deployed relatively quickly and alleviate many of the bottlenecks caused by this unprecedented surge in bandwidth demand. As bandwidth increases, however, so does the complexity of network monitoring and security. New tools must be deployed to manage and protect high speed networks.