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Cisco Cat6k Sup2T is the premier NetFlow switch with amazing performance

The real "skinny" on the NetFlow capabilities of 6 different switch vendors.

Sanford, ME:   Wed, 10/3/12 - 2:30am    View comments

Plixer InternationalCisco Developer RegisteredI'm sure flow exporting is just one of the many features a customer is concerned about when purchasing a new switch. But as a flow company, switches supporting NetFlow or IPFIX are of paramount importance to us.

So here are a few switches to consider:

  1. Cisco Cat6k Sup2T - supports NetFlow v9 and is of course a great product, very progressive with powerful Flexible NetFlow capabilities, but pricey.
  2. Enterasys S-Series - support NetFlow v9. We have two of their switches. Great products.
  3. Alcatel-Lucent SR7750 - exports IPFIX, but we have not tested it. Looks progressive as they are exporting performance metrics.
  4. Extreme Summit - supports IPFIX, but we are still testing it.
  5. AVAYA / Nortel switches - support NetFlow / IPFIX, but Nortel had lots of problems with the 8600 export and the 5500 only sampled. What is their future commitment to flow technology?
  6. ZTE - claims to support IPFIX. We can't wait to test it.

Based on the above, we've created a matrix of vendor flow support:

Based on the above, we've created a matrix of vendor flow support
Source: Plixer International

Note: Several of the above vendors also have switches supporting sFlow, however, that's an entirely different topic and the NetFlow vs. sFlow discussion is better covered elsewhere.

The future of flows

We're seeing a trend in flow exports where vendors are exporting:

  • Option templates that provide details on syslogs, SNMP details, etc.
  • Performance metrics with details on latency (round trip time), packet loss, jitter, caller ID, URLs and more.
  • Application aware exports through Deep Packet Inspection to identify applications that share the same ports (e.g. TCP 80).
Load testing is very important with NetFlow and IPFIX. Years ago the Nortel export fell to pieces under a load and early versions of the Cisco supervisor suffered from TCAM overflow issues. Make sure you test the switches under a heavy load when exporting flows.

Finally, compromising on flow support in favor of other features may fit your needs better. For example, you can always place an nBox off of a switch port.

View Cisco How-To Tutorials.

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