What is the best data access method to deliver network traffic to the right monitoring tools? When this topic is brought up most network engineers will mention TAPs or SPANs. Both types access data from the network and forward that data to tools for either analysis, debugging problems or to diagnose errors on a network.
IT professionals will choose their resources based on their particular monitoring needs. Sometimes this includes using both SPANs and TAPs. Here are some basic guidelines when deciding between the two.
SPANs vs TAPs
Switch Port Analyzers (SPANs) are a software feature on switches and routers that direct network traffic for analysis by network analysis tools. SPAN ports mirror traffic from one or more sources to a destination port. With SPANs in your network, IT professionals can dig into the details of their network traffic. Here a few benefits when implementing SPANs:
- No additional costs to create a SPAN port
- Are remotely configurable from any management station that can access the configuration of the switch
- Capable of capturing intra-switch traffic
Test Access Ports (TAPs) on the other hand are devices that provide easy access by copying the data, ensuring all data arrives at the right monitoring device in real time. TAPs are ideal when analysis requires seeing all traffic, including physical layer errors. Below are some additional differences between the two kinds of ports:
- TAPs don’t introduce latency
- TAPS are not susceptible to power failure
- TAPs don’t alter data content
- TAPs are simple to install
- TAPS can operate when networks are 100 percent utilized
TAPs can be placed between any production switch in the network and any external device such as VoIP recording devices, network intrusion detection systems, network probes, protocol analyzers, packet sniffers, RMON probes, and data aggregation and filtering systems like our IntellaFlex XR network monitoring solution.
Monitoring for Next Generation Data Centers
To make sure IT and security professionals have complete visibility of their data, we have introduced 40Gbps and 100Gbps TAPs to our ApconTap family, which include short range, long range and bidirectional models to accommodate requirements for next generation data center deployments.
Our TAPs fully integrate with our network visibility platform which supports packet aggregation, rate conversion, port tagging, filtering and NetFlow generation. With this complete network monitoring package, IT and security professionals can scale their network equipment according to their data center.
To learn more about how ApconTaps can help improve your network architecture, check out our TAPs page.