A Network Bypass Switch is a hardware device, which ensures failover or fail-safe capabilities for an inline networking device or a network security tool (such as a firewall or an intrusion detection and prevention system). If the network appliance fails or needs to be taken off-line for whatever reason, its traffic is automatically rerouted, ensuring uninterrupted traffic flow on the network.
Eliminating Points of Failure:
Sometimes also referred to as a bypass tap, the network bypass switch, is a special type of active tap. It is used to connect a network segment at a specific network access point (AP) where there is an active, inline device (such as a security tool that is there for inspection and monitoring purposes).
Functionally, it can reroute traffic automatically by monitoring the tool’s health or can manually be made to redirect traffic (such as when disconnecting the monitoring tool for maintenance or other motives). Since the inline network devices are essential to the overall functioning of the enterprise network – any issue with them can critically effect network performance.
Each network device that is placed inline is a potential single point of failure in the computer network. If the device should experience even the shortest period of system hang-up or failure (that takes time for a reboot or any kind of troubleshooting), then traffic flow will be discontinued. Even for maintenance or replacement purposes, disconnecting the device will interrupt normal traffic flow at that point.
Any dropped data packet is a potential cause of error or inaccuracy in the processes and applications that depend on receiving those data packets. Thus, the network bypass switch – that can circumvent any and all interruptions at that critical AP or network link – is an essential element of the network infrastructure. The network bypass switch eliminates this point of failure by redirecting the network data traffic to bypass around the network device at that point, whenever that device is incapable of processing or passing the traffic.
In case the bypass switch itself is somehow compromised, it contains a relay switch that is designed to close and go to 'bypass mode' and allow the traffic to seamlessly flow through its cable to maintain an uninterrupted and open link with the rest of the network. This is especially important with regards to security devices that need to continuously defend the network against malevolent attacks and security breaches.