Tapping is a layer 1 technique to get access to network traffic without interfering the original traffic and without losing information. The purpose of tapping is monitoring and lawful interception. Depending on the physical situation and different speed requirements (from very slow 2 Mbit up to very fast 100 Gbit links), optical and copper interfaces can be chosen. A network link (connection) has two directions, which means that for 100 Gbit link, the user has to handle up to 200 Gbit. The major issue in tapping a network is not interfering the original traffic. Due to this challenge, it is required to choose a tool which is built with a deep knowledge in layer 1. Several customers are using Cubro’s layer 1 solutions for over a decade.
Cubro’s network packet brokers are capable of steering the traffic in many ways. The tools are passive and are deployed inline behind TAPs. They can be used with or without bypass protection. Steering includes load balancing and traffic tunneling. Cubro supports all major tunnel techniques VLAN, MPLS, GRE, NVGRE, GENEVA, VXLAN. TAP networks can be very complex today, often there are several packet brokers involved. Cubro has systems with more than 1000 ports.
Filtering is another major solution needed to support monitoring applications. Cubro can filter in all 7 layers depending on the equipment. This capability helps the user to save cost because only the relevant traffic needs to be monitored and collected. Cubro NPB supports thousands of filters from 2000 in the smallest unit up to 1 million in the biggest. The amount of filters has no impact on the performance of the unit.
Often specific traffic must be forwarded to specific devices. Cubro products can help to offload the analyzing devices with this filter (separation) capabilities.
Aggregation and filtering
The EX2 is connected to several devices, for instance, span ports. The traffic from various sources can be aggregated to one stream for a monitoring device. This application reduces the overhead associated with each transmission. The appliances can be set up to share the traffic load by load balancing and even filtering the data. This way, only the traffic of interest is sent out to the appliances and it minimizes the possibility of oversubscribing the 1GbE monitor ports.
Load balancing up to multiple 100 G
Load balancing is vital because analyzing and capturing devices are only capable of handling a certain amount of traffic. Cubro helps to load balance the traffic to several devices which share the load. This load balancing is very flexible and supports many ports.
Symmetric load balancing
Symmetric load balancing, or session aware load balancing, is supported on all Cubro G4 Packetmasters at no extra charge. In addition, 10 LB groups with 16 ports are also supported. Symmetric load balancing is a mechanism that interchanges the source and destination addresses to ensure that bidirectional traffic, specific to a particular source and destination address pair flows out of the same member of a trunk group.
The EX Series can be connected directly in a live copper link 10/100/1000 without TAPs. The user can set up filters and send the traffic out on the 4 x 10/100/1000 Mbit interfaces. This traffic is small enough to be captured with a standard laptop. This function also allows for the traffic to be removed and inserted in the live links.
The EX Series can also work as a media converter from:
- Copper to Fiber 1 Gbit
- Copper to Fiber 10 Gbit
- Fiber 10 Gbit (SM) to Fiber 10 Gbit (MM), 40 Gbit, 100 Gbit, etc.
Monitoring and troubleshooting
The Packetmaster EX48400 supports 4500 layer 4+ filters. These filters can be used to redirect a small portion of the traffic to a low end, in terms of bandwidth, monitoring tool like a PC with Wireshark. The filtered traffic can be used to troubleshoot routing issues on 100 Gbit link. It is also possible to feed several monitoring Probes with specific traffic.
Monitoring and troubleshooting is a vital part of maintaining and running networks. Growth in traffic and increase in the number of applications has made filtering an important featurefor troubleshooting. Cubro offers smart filtering in any OSI Layer in line rate up to 100 Gbit session aware and application aware in L7.
Filtering – 4500 Flow Rules
A total of 4500 flow rules (filters) can be set in the unit.The red dot marked fields can be used as a match for a packet, stand-alone, combined or with wildcards.For IPSrc and IP, Dst supernets are supported.
Available actions after a positive match include –
- Send out : to one or more ports - even the same as the input is possible.
- Drop : delete the specific packet
- Modify : modify specific fields in the matched packets, VLAN, MPLS, MAC SRC, MAC DST, PORT, VLA, Priority and some more
- Add VLAN : the unit cant aga VLAN on the input to separate the traffic after aggregation
- Strip VLAN : VLAN can be removed, Q in Q is supported
- Add MPLS : add an MPLS Tag to a matched packet
- Strip MPLS : remove an MPLS Tag from a matched packet
- Stacking of rules : this function gives the option to generate very complex filter rules.
Amplification for monitoring
It is very common to use optical splitters to monitor the traffic in a network, but a splitter also reduces the optical power on the active link. In multimode networks with higher bandwidths (10 Gbit), this could especially cause transmission problems. A Cubro Media Converter 10 G for amplification can help solve this problem.
Big Data – AI: Machine learning approach on Mobile Network Monitoring Data
The network shown in this image is monitored using monitoring probes. The Probe is connected via a TAP network and aggregation devices (network packet brokers) to the different interfaces of the network. These interfaces are logically and physically different which allows us to get a full view of what’s going on in the network. All these different interfaces are analyzed by probes.
A Probe is a device that can decode the traffic from the network and produce meta data records (XDR extended data records). The records are sent to a database. The database must be very powerful in terms of processing and storage to handle the huge amount of data. Such a system produces, even on a mid-size network, terabyte of data and billion of records per day.
Typically such a monitoring probe covers the L5 – L7 in the OSI stack.
Why is this done?
Monitoring is important to networks and this data can be used for several applications :
- Improving customer satisfaction
- Network planning, troubleshooting and dimensioning
- Fraud and Security
- Performance measuring
- SLA against customers
- SLA against other providers
- SLA against network vendors
A good working monitoring system can save a lot of money and help to improve the performance.
What is the challenge and how big data and AI can be useful?
Typically such monitoring systems provide KPIs (key performance indicators). The KPI is a formula, which calculates some information on this XDR from the probes and provides these results in different graphs. The big issue with the KPIs is that they are predefined in a LAB and are not flexible. They are neither adopted on the customer's network nor on the network changes.
Big networks behave like a living organism, which can be influenced by customers’ behavior, external factors like weather, and the transported contend. Therefore, a KPI is not an accurate way to show network behavior because it is unidimensional - too strict and not flexible at all.
Typically KPIs do not take account of knowing existing issues in networks like updates, weather and other external impacts. This is the reason why KPIs often produce a lot of false positive results. And most importantly, KPIs can show by definition only known issues, for instant dynamic correlated events could never be detected with KPIs.
The idea with big data is now to add intelligent, flexible and a multidimensional view to a network. With the help of databases like Hadoop, MongoDB it is not possible to add data from multiple sources to produce more useful reports.
Cubro now invests in AI and machine learning project to prove that Big Data in combination with AI is a useful approach to improve the mentioned issue.
Filtering in layer 6
The EXA Series make it possible to connect with optical or electrical TAPs and filter the S1u and S1MME traffic which can then extract traffic of one mobile customer. This is filtering and correlation in Layer 6. The traffic can be captured with a standard laptop using Wireshark, to get a full session from a specific customer. Up to 256 filters on individual mobile users can run simultaneously. To make the captures even more useful, the GTP tunnel can be removed.
LAYER 7 FILTERS
All EXA Sessionmaster can be used with thousands of filters, with ZERO performance loss. Almost all the fields in the IPv4 and IPv6 layer 4 headers can be used as a filter match. However, sometimes filtering is needed above layer 4. Filtering up to layer 7 is now possible with the new Cubro Sessionmaster EXA series. The Sessionmasters units utilize on board Network Processors, which are highly optimized CPU's that allow the Sessionmaster to easily handle high bandwidth network traffic with no lost or dropped packets.
Conversion of traffic
The user can convert traffic into a usable form, convert on a physical level from copper to fiber interfaces or vice versa. The application also enables a user to convert bandwidth from 10 to 1Gbit. The user can convert or modify the traffic so that the tools can handle it, removing tunnels or removing labels like VLAN and MPLS.
With the 10Gb ports on the EXA products, it is possible to convert the traffic from a Mobile Core Network to 1Gb so that a conventional PC with Wireshark can be used. The 10Gb traffic can be converted to 1Gb and also filtered down to one specific mobile user for capture by the tool.
Layer 7 Filtering for troubleshooting
VoLTE SIP filtering (with S1-MME/S1-U interface input)
VoLTE RTP/RTCP filtering (with S1-MM/S1-U interface input)
This application helps to troubleshoot VoLTE traffic in a mobile network. It is available on all EXA models.
IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) filtering application
When a mobile network is populated by million of active users (IMSI), troubleshooting a problem can be a problem. Monitoring a single customer or a group of customers by capturing the entire traffic from the network can be expensive and time-consuming. It can take days to search the database of the monitoring system for the customer’s traffic before analyzing it.
The Cubro Sessionmaster EXA does smart filtering to solve this problem. The Sessionmaster can filter, correlate and aggregate the traffic of one or a group of customers based on the IMSI. This is done online in Sessionmaster and the user can connect simple monitoring devices (Laptop & Wireshark) to analyze the traffic. The sessionmaster forwards the traffic of only the required customer/s and therefore it is easy to capture it with a small device.
The Sessionmaster uses a two-stage concept. Typically, the GN ports carry a lot of traffic up to multiple 10 Gbps and the traffic must be split into smaller portions.
In line GTP tunnel decapsulate & tunnel encapsulate
This application has a very challenging approach. The user can remove the GTP tunnel only on HTTP traffic, process the traffic and add the GTP tunnel in the life link.
The process -
- The traffic is sent over a Cubro optical bypass switch to the Sessionmaster EXA, to protect the live link in case of a failure
- From the Bypass, the traffic goes to the EXA. The EXA removes the GTP tunnel but stores the tunnel information.
- The EXA sends the pure (without GTP header) IP traffic to the application server (firewall, IDS, proxy ...)
- The traffic is sent back to the Sessionmaster EXA after being processed
- The EXA sends the packets with the original GTP header re-encapsulated, over the optical bypass switch back to live link
- The traffic is reinserted in the live link
Keyword Search and regular expression
Keywords or regular expression search is a way to find traffic based on the content of the packet. This is needed to separate traffic, which cannot be done with IP header filters. The Sessionmaster can do keyword or regular expression search in the packets in line rate up to 20 Gbit with single CPU and 40 Gbit with a second CPU module. To perform a useful search, the Sessionmaster must decode the protocol. The search depth and the search offset can be configured by the user.
Example : The requirement is to get all “http get” messages for analysis because the “http get” message gives a lot of information about the traffic and saves a lot of bandwidth.
Deep Packet Inspection
Deep Packet Inspection is typically decoding of Packet above layer 4. It is used to identify the network protocol. It is also used to identify the application. There are two major DPI applications:
- Filter with DPI and traffic steering - The Sessionmaster EXA can look with his DPI features in the packet stream, identify a packet and then forward this related stream based on rules to an output port (original packets).
- Meta data extraction - XDR - The DPI feature of a Probe enables it to look in the packet stream, identify a packet, extract meta data and send this to a server for next processing step (non-original packets).
Meta data extraction
Cubro offers two Probes to extract meta data out of network traffic. Cubro Mobile Probe is designed for all mobile network protocols 2G/3G/4G/5, and Cubro FlowVista is for pure IP traffic. Both the Probes are hardware based appliances. The heart of the Probe is a Cavium multi core CPU and our own developed real time OS. This design provides high performance and high availability.
Both the Probes are agnostic to sources and Big Data Stack like, Splunk, ELK and so on. The additional advantage of the Probe is that there is no administrative limit in terms of the amount of XDR core port speed. Cubro charges only for the appliance Hardware and Software. There are no XDR volume charges or any bandwidth charges (it is your data).
Meta data and Big data are the key technologies to provide useful information to control networks and protect networks from fraud. These technologies also help to monetise the data from the network. Let your network earn money for you.
Big Data in Network Operators
Big Data is a buzzword all over the world. Service provider industry believes that big data will play a critical role. What are the possibilities of big data analytics and how can big data help service providers on a daily base?
There has been an unprecedented growth in the network traffic and service providers are facing several problems every day due to the cost pressure, customer complaints, compatibility problems and many more. Service providers must find efficient ways to correlate all data sources.
In the past up to now a service provider runs typically a punch of monitoring system, and has hundred databases with often overlapping data, from different sources or the same source. The entire data silo is not consolidated because of technical issues and cost. Besides these issues, operating all the data silos is also a big cost driver.
Big Data is a tool to consolidate all these different platforms to one Big Data Storage (not a database). Data sources can be network elements, server logs, and passive probes.
But Big Data is not the solution. It is only a tool that makes a solution possible.
Passive probing is one core competence of Cubro. The phenomenal growth of data requires that the service provider industry understands the use of Big Data. Cubro, unlike most other vendors, focuses on agnostic approach. We focus on providing meta data unlike selling BI and Reports. Cubro Probe is highly reliable and offers best performance. In addition, we offer our customers reduced TCO.
Leading Innovation : Cubro offers NPBs with P4 support
The EX32100 and EX48600 are the first NPBs in the market with P4 support. P4 is a language for Silicons. With the help of P4 it is possible to add functions to Silicon, which is impossible in an ASCI. This results in higher performance compared to FPGA. To give an example, we add some extended MPLS features to the unit to support the following MPLS removing actions :
Ethernet|MPLS | IPv4|payload
Ethernet|MPLS | IPv6|payload
Ethernet|MPLS | MPLS | payload
Ethernet|MPLS | MPLS | Ethernet | payload
Ethernet|MPLS | MPLS | MPLS|MPLS | payload
Ethernet|MPLS | XXXX | payload
Removing MPLS tags is not simple because the layer 2 header must be stored and after cutting the MPLS tags the Layer 2 header must be restored. Typically all silicons on the market cannot support more than 2 tags, and as wildcard MPLS removal is not possible. This means the TAG which should be removed must be known in advance.
The Cubro solutions support up to 4 MPLS tags and wildcard removal up to multiple 100 Gbps performance.