What is an NPB and why you need one

What is a Network Packet Broker

A Network Packet Broker (NPB) is an active device that directs selected raw data packets from network interfaces (typically via SPAN or tap points) to specific network service and monitoring devices, and performance management and security applications.

What Exactly Does a Network Packet Broker Do

Niagara’s NPB solutions perform a range of crucial functionalities for all types of networks, even those with extremely complex architectures and that are resource intensive including:

  • Total Network Visibility - Identifying known, suspicious, and unknown traffic passing through the network
  • Network robustness - Ensuring data loss prevention and advanced filtering, as well as high availability, stripping, and other special purpose packet capabilities
  • Network management - Not just knowing how to monitor network traffic, but also knowing what to do with each type of traffic: where to pass known (authorized) data types, and how to handle suspicious and unknown traffic

Why You Need a Network Packet Broker

In their role as data analyzers, Niagara’s Packet Brokers can also handle deduplication of redundant (duplicate) packets before they reach analysis or security tools within the network, that are passed along by multiple taps forwarding their data traffic. The NPBs will eliminate those duplicates and make sure network tools do not waste resources on handling redundant data.

Basic data packet manipulation schema includes one network link, to one tool (one-to-one), one network link to multiple tools (one-to-many), multiple network links to one tool (many-to-one) and multiple network links to multiple tools (many-to-many) – interlaced and load balanced into a network-wide fabric. 


What is Network Packet Broker NPB active device raw data packets from network interfaces to network service and monitoring tools performance management and security

Types of Network Packet Brokers

Niagara offers 3 types of Network Packet Brokers:

An icon of a fixed network packet broker

Fixed NPB

Niagara’s signature FixedBroker is a high density, high performance, NPB series that packs a lot of power into a compact, 1U form factor. FixedBroker supports non-blocking chip-based switching fabric and a range of network interfaces up to 100Gb.

Some products offer multiple network interface types for easy aggregation and stacking. All FixedBroker products include Niagara’s pioneering Packet Heartbeat technology and FabricFlow technology for an exhaustive built-in set of packet broker features including replication, aggregation, filtering, load balancing, and more.

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An icon of a fixed Modular NPB

Modular NPB

Niagara provides a modular product series named N2. It provides a single multi-purpose platform that covers all of the visibility adaptation scenarios required in a network. The N2 series can be populated with a wide range of high density, high versatility, processor-accelerated modules.

With a modular design, it supports advanced FabricFlow technology, capabilities and features including network tap, bypass, packet broker and packet processing applications. Available in both a 1U and 2U form factor.


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An icon of a hybrid broker/bypass

Hybrid Packet
Broker / Bypass

Combined, all-in-one bypass and packet broker.

This Packet Broker combines up to 4 full bypass segments (handling 4 network links) with packet broker functionality, so that traffic to the inline or monitoring devices can be filtered, aggregated, load balanced and more.  It has up to 816 multi-purpose, 1/10 Gigabit SFP ports + media for extensive packet filtering, distribution, aggregation and mirroring functionality, which can be assigned to any of the network segments.


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