The Risks of Clinging to Portable TAPs
January 29, 2018

Chris Bihary
Garland Technology

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Think back to the 1980s and 1990s, the early days of IT, when portable network analyzers were the talk of the town. These massive suitcase-sized analyzers might have been anything but portable, but they represented a simpler time when network analysis was merely temporary.

As network engineers soon realized, traffic demands would require a greater level of visibility, and network design required permanent data center rack solutions.

Forcing Portable TAPs to be Permanent

When the need for permanent network TAP (test access point) solutions emerged, some providers took their existing portable TAPs, stuck screw-on ears onto the box, put it in a rack mount and started calling it a data center solution.

This created a cabling nightmare when taking into account each copper gigabit TAP required two power sources (that's two power bricks for each portable network TAP that might be mounted in the data center). This might be acceptable if there was an isolated need for a TAP, but what about when there was a need to have 10, 20 or even more? Further, supporting numerous power cables resulted in the requirement of a power distribution unit, because plugging it into a Universal Power Supply wasn't an option.

HINT: When paying for a data center on the basis of space, cooling, and power consumption, try to avoid any infrastructure complications, and additional monthly charges.

Forget Portable

Whether you're building a new data center or upgrading an existing one, make certain you ask, "Why are you clinging to a portable network TAP variation or make-shift solution?"

Networking decision makers have relied on the idea of portable network TAPs for so long, they have grown accustomed to coping with make-shift solutions. So, while the mess of cables isn't all network administrators may have to contend with, they might also have to worry about power failure from accidentally unplugging a cable, or maybe even see the use of lithium batteries to ensure the power connectivity, but none of these are solutions, as they each introduce more problems.

It's Time to Forgo the Portable TAP Variations

Whether you're building a new data center or upgrading an existing one, make certain you ask, "Why are you clinging to a portable network TAP variation or make-shift solution?"

Data centers with extensive TAP needs require a chassis solution that can provide multiple TAPs in a 1U or 2U box; a modular chassis solution that can be built specifically for permanent data center placement and eliminates the cabling mess while providing reliable power to copper gigabit network TAPs. 

Chris Bihary is CEO and Co-Founder of Garland Technology
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