Technical Insights > Network Visibility + Security

Cool Packet Broker Tips - Load Balancing

2020-11-13  |  4 min read 

What is a packet broker? In short a packet broker is a specialized switch that enables network administrators to supply the traffic needed, and only the traffic needed, to security and analytics tools on the network. A good way to ensure you get good visibility into traffic, get the most out of your tools and ensure smooth operations. Indeed, one of the things you can do with a visibility fabric is to build high availability inline security solutions such that upgrades, patches and the like can be done without having to open up a maintenance window. We'll touch more on that in a later blog post.

The focus here, however, is Load Balancing.

Let's say you have some security tools that you need to get traffic to. Maybe these tools are firewalls, maybe they are IPSs, maybe they are something else. Doesn't really matter. Well, actually it does matter because different tools are going to be interested in different kinds of traffic and you can do some pretty neat things with filtering and grooming traffic with packet brokers. One example, streaming video. You probably don't need to inspect Netflix traffic for malware so you can filter that (and other irrelevant kinds of traffic) saving tool capacity for where it is really needed. Another thing we will do a deeper dive on in a later blog.

If your network and security tool farm is anything like most of the others out there, you have probably seen some sort of growth and expansion over time. Perhaps you had a tool with four 1g ports but later did an upgrade and got a faster version of the same tool from the same vendor with a single 10g port. Assuming that your 1g tool is still working fine, you may not want to throw it away when you do the upgrade. Load balancing can help you extend the life of those earlier tools by enabling you to fairly distribute traffic across available ports even if they are different speeds on different tools with the same capability. Keep those older tools in play and in our 10g/4x1g example, you end up with 40% more capacity in the end. A good way to utilize resources that you have already have up and running and perhaps even more importantly they are one of my favorite kinds of resources - those which are already paid for. No need to go back to the well and battle it out in the budgetary and political layers of the OSI stack.

We invite you to check out the Visibility Tech Tips video on load balancing. We have a bunch of other good visibilty tech tips in the Keysight Visibility Tech Tips library. Check 'em out!

Thanks for reading.