Network Performance Management tools have long relied on Netflow/IPFIX data to monitor/troubleshoot enterprise and service provider networks.  But, when it comes to Application Performance Management (APM), where there is a need for timestamps to mine out TCP connection setup time, time to first byte, total transaction time, round trip times and many more such statistics; NetFlow/IPFIX falls short. This is the reason why IT admins responsible for APM use ‘packet captures’ with span ports and aggregators.

The amount of data that one has to analyze and co-relate also differs vastly with these two approaches – NetFlow/IPFIX or ‘packet captures’.  Netflow generates a record for every IP flow in each direction,  averaging about 2 to 3 Mbps for a saturated 100Mbps link, filling up a 1TB disk in 45 to 60 days. The same 100Mbps link will fill up the 1TB disk in less than 48 hours with the packet capture approach.

What if all of the data traversing the network element is based on ‘SSL’ ? Can Netflow help you or packet captures do you any good ? What about packet captures when a proxy device is in the path ?

With NetScaler AppFlow we deliver the best of all worlds! Flow based record generation and timestamp data for complete APM. Appflow also collects L7 specific information like HTTP user agent, URL, cookie information and much more. We also provide support for HTTPS/SSL traffic since NetScaler already does the heavy lifting of SSL decryption.

With network elements that perform proxy and/or NAT functions, traditional APM data collection becomes very cumbersome and almost always doubles the amount of data collected. With NetScaler AppFlow, the flow records are already collated and ready for consumption by any collectors that support the appflow.org standards (eg. Solarwinds, Splunk, etc.)

In summary AppFlow is the smarter and a more efficient approach to APM that addresses all of the challenges/short comings of Netflow and/or Packet Capture tools while also significantly reducing the amount of data collected.

Check out http://www.appflow.org for more details.