Network traffic measurement

Network traffic measurement

In computer networks, network traffic measurement is the process of measuring the amount and type of traffic on a particular network. This is especially important with regard to effective bandwidth management.



Various software tools are available to measure network traffic. Some tools measure traffic by sniffing and others use SNMP, WMI or other local agents to measure bandwidth use on individual machines and routers. However, the latter generally do not detect the type of traffic, nor do they work for machines which are not running the necessary agent software, such as rogue machines on the network, or machines for which no compatible agent is available. In the latter case, inline appliances are preferred. These would generally 'sit' between the LAN and the LAN's exit point, generally the WAN or Internet router, and all packets leaving and entering the network would go through them. In most cases the appliance would operate as a bridge on the network so that it is undetectable by users.

Functions and features

Measurement tools generally have these functions and features:

  • User interface (web, graphical, console)
  • Real-time traffic graphs
  • Network activity is often reported against pre-configured traffic matching rules to show:
    • Local IP address
    • Remote IP address
    • Port number or protocol
    • Logged in user name
  • Bandwidth quotas
  • Support for traffic shaping or rate limiting (overlapping with the network traffic control page)
  • Support website blocking and content filtering
  • Alarms to notify the administrator of excessive usage (by IP address or in total)

Some available tools

Some of the available tools include:

  • Argus processes packets into detailed network flow audit data for operations, performance and security management.
  • Cacti allows a user to poll services at predetermined intervals and graph the resulting data.
  • cFosSpeed performs traffic classification and lets the user display, shape, tag or rate-limit protocols or programs under Windows.
  • FlowMon is a complete solution for NetFlow monitoring and analyzis including probes up to 10 Gbit/s, collectors and other supervision systems.
  • InterMapper Originally developed for the Macintosh Classic in 1994 by the network manger of Dartmouth College this application uses SNMP, Ping and Netflow to build a graphical network map similar to HP Openview which shows bandwidth usage by port information and protocol. VLAN aware. Supported platforms: MacOS X, Linux and Windows.
  • LiveAction provides real-time routing layer visualizations that allow the user to see and troubleshoot routes and implement policy-based routing.
  • MRTG.
  • NetLimiter is a traffic monitoring and shaping software for Windows.
  • OmniPeek is an end-to-end network monitoring solution, offering support for many packet adapters and remote collectors.
  • Observium is an autodiscovering network monitoring application focusing on extensive data collection and graphing of network infrastructure.
  • PRTG runs on Windows, with graphical and web interfaces. It captures packets using Cisco Netflow or packet sniffing or uses SNMP to monitor bandwidth usages.
  • Wireshark (Ethereal) network packet logger, visualizer, inspector, some analyses.
  • PacketTrap Networks - Traffic and Traffic Flow Analyzer
  • Scrutinizer NetFlow and sFlow Analyzer provides deep visibility into network traffic behavior and trends. Leveraging NetFlow, J-Flow, and sFlow data, NetFlow Traffic Analyzer identifies which users and applications are consuming the most bandwidth.
  • Sandvine Intelligent Network Solutions measure and manage network traffic using Policy Traffic Switches
  • SevOne Network Performance Monitoring System.

The Netflow article also lists devices which generate and applications which analyse Cisco Netflow records.

  • Streamcore StreamGroomer features an integrated tap mechanism by means of which a copy of the actual network traffic is made and performance analysis is carried out on this replicated traffic. Regulates and measures the traffic exchanged between LAN and WAN networks.

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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