100G is Increasingly Popular, and It's Creating a Host of Management Challenges
November 02, 2020

Nadeem Zahid
cPacket Networks

Share this

Name virtually any technology trend — digital transformation, cloud-first operations, datacenter consolidation, mobility, streaming data, AI/ML, the application explosion, etc. — they all have one thing in common: an insatiable need for higher bandwidth (and often, low latency). The result is a steady push to move 10Gbps and 25Gbps network infrastructure toward the edge, and increasing adoption of 100Gbps in enterprise core, datacenter and service provider networks.

Initial deployments focused on backbone interconnects (historically a dual-ring failover topology; more recently mesh connectivity), primarily driven by north-south traffic. Data center adoption has followed, generally in spine-leaf architecture to handle increases in east-west connections.

Beyond a hunger for bandwidth, 100G is having a moment for several reasons: a commodity-derived drop in cost, increasing availability of 100G-enabled components, and the derivative ability to easily break 100G into 10/25G line rates. In light of these trends, analyst firm Dell'Oro expects 100G adoption to hit its stride this year and remain strong over the next five years.

Nobody in their right mind disputes the notion that enterprises and service providers will continue to adopt ever-faster networks. However, the same thing that makes 100G desirable — speed — conspires to create a host of challenges when trying to manage and monitor the infrastructure. The simple truth is that the faster the network, the more quickly things can go wrong. That makes monitoring for things like regulatory compliance, load balancing, incident response/forensics, capacity planning, etc., more important than ever.

At 10G, every packet is transmitted in 67 nanoseconds; at 100G that increases tenfold, with packets flying by at 6.7 nanoseconds. And therein lies the problem: when it comes to 100G, traditional management and monitoring infrastructure can't keep up.

The line-rate requirement varies based on where infrastructure sits in the monitoring stack. Network TAPs must be capable of mirroring data at 100G line speeds to packet brokers and tools. Packet brokers must handle that 100G traffic simultaneously on multiple ports, and process and forward each packet at line rate to the tool rail. Capture devices need to be able to achieve 100G bursts in capture-to-disk process. And any analysis layer must ingest information at 100G speeds to allow correlation, analysis and visualization.

Complicating matters are various "smart" features, each of which demand additional processing resources. As an example, packet brokers might include filtering, slicing and deduplication capabilities. If the system is already struggling with the line rate, any increased processing load degrades performance further.

For any infrastructure not designed with 100G in mind, the failure mode is inevitably the same: lost or dropped packets. That, in turn, results in network blind spots. When visibility is the goal, blind spots are — at the risk of oversimplification — bad. The impact can be incorrect calculations, slower time-to-resolution or incident response, longer malware dwell time, greater application performance fluctuation, compliance or SLA challenges and more.

Lossless monitoring requires that every part of the visibility stack is designed around 100G line speeds. Packet brokers in particular, given their central role in visibility infrastructure, are a critical chokepoint. Where possible, a two-tier monitoring architecture is recommended with a high-density 10/25/100G aggregation layer to aggregate TAPs and tools, and a high-performance 100G core packet broker to process and service the packets. While upgrades are possible, beware as they add cost yet may still not achieve true 100G line speeds when smart features centralize and share processing requirements at the core. Newer systems with a distributed/dedicated per-port processing architecture (versus shared central processing) are specifically designed to accommodate 100G line rates and eliminate these bottlenecks.

The overarching point is that desire for 100G performance cannot override the need for 100G visibility, or the entire network can suffer as a result. The visibility infrastructure needs to match the forwarding infrastructure. While 100G line rates are certainly possible with the latest monitoring equipment and software, IT teams must not assume that existing network visibility systems can keep up with the new load.

Nadeem Zahid is VP of Product Management & Marketing at cPacket Networks
Share this

The Latest

September 27, 2022

Users have high expectations around applications — quick loading times, look and feel visually advanced, with feature-rich content, video streaming, and multimedia capabilities — all of these devour network bandwidth. With millions of users accessing applications and mobile apps from multiple devices, most companies today generate seemingly unmanageable volumes of data and traffic on their networks ...

September 26, 2022

In Italy, it is customary to treat wine as part of the meal ... Too often, testing is treated with the same reverence as the post-meal task of loading the dishwasher, when it should be treated like an elegant wine pairing ...

September 23, 2022

In order to properly sort through all monitoring noise and identify true problems, their causes, and to prioritize them for response by the IT team, they have created and built a revolutionary new system using a meta-cognitive model ...

September 22, 2022

As we shift further into a digital-first world, where having a reliable online experience becomes more essential, Site Reliability Engineers remain in-demand among organizations of all sizes ... This diverse set of skills and values can be difficult to interview for. In this blog, we'll get you started with some example questions and processes to find your ideal SRE ...

September 21, 2022

US government agencies are bringing more of their employees back into the office and implementing hybrid work schedules, but federal workers are worried that their agencies' IT architectures aren't built to handle the "new normal." They fear that the reactive, manual methods used by the current systems in dealing with user, IT architecture and application problems will degrade the user experience and negatively affect productivity. In fact, according to a recent survey, many federal employees are concerned that they won't work as effectively back in the office as they did at home ...

September 20, 2022

Users today expect a seamless, uninterrupted experience when interacting with their web and mobile apps. Their expectations have continued to grow in tandem with their appetite for new features and consistent updates. Mobile apps have responded by increasing their release cadence by up to 40%, releasing a new full version of their app every 4-5 days, as determined in this year's SmartBear State of Software Quality | Application Stability Index report ...

September 19, 2022

In this second part of the blog series, we look at how adopting AIOps capabilities can drive business value for an organization ...

September 16, 2022

ITOPS and DevOps is in the midst of a surge of innovation. New devices and new systems are appearing at an unprecedented rate. There are many drivers of this phenomenon, from virtualization and containerization of applications and services to the need for improved security and the proliferation of 5G and IOT devices. The interconnectedness and the interdependencies of these technologies also greatly increase systems complexity and therefore increase the sheer volume of things that need to be integrated, monitored, and maintained ...

September 15, 2022

IT talent acquisition challenges are now heavily influencing technology investment decisions, according to new research from Salesforce's MuleSoft. The 2022 IT Leaders Pulse Report reveals that almost three quarters (73%) of senior IT leaders agree that acquiring IT talent has never been harder, and nearly all (98%) respondents say attracting IT talent influences their organization's technology investment choices ...

September 14, 2022

The findings of the 2022 Observability Forecast offer a detailed view of how this practice is shaping engineering and the technologies of the future. Here are 10 key takeaways from the forecast ...