Go With The Flow: What Is NetFlow and How Is It Used?

Did you know that Cisco Systems was founded in 1984? If you have been hearing the word NetFlow and you have been asking yourself “what is NetFlow?” – we are here to help. We have put together this short guide as a reference to share more about NetFlow and what’s the purpose of NetFlow.

Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of NetFlow.

What Is NetFlow?

Cisco developed NetFlow to collect IP traffic information and to monitor the flow within the network. When the NetFlow data is analyzed you can get a picture of network volume and network traffic flow.

IT professionals use NetFlow to analyze the data in order to figure out where exactly the traffic is coming from and how much traffic is being generated. They can also determine where the traffic is going. You can learn more about NetFlow analysis to understand how the traffic is monitored.

How Does NetFlow Work?

There is a simple process of collecting data, sorting the data, and analyzing it that NetFlow follows. The four main components are IP Flow, NetFlow Cache, Command Line Interface, and NetFlow Collector.

IP Flow and NetFlow Cache

IP flow is a group of packets that contain the same IP packet attributes. When the packet is forwarded within the switch or a router, it is examined for a set of attributes. The attributes include the IP service address, the source port, destination port, IP destination address, Layer-3 protocol type, and the router or switch interface.

NetFlow cache is a database that has a condensed version of the information where NetFlow data is stored after the packets have been examined.

Command Line Interface

This is one of two methods that are used to access NetFlow data. The Command Line Interface or CLI allows you to see an immediate view of your network traffic and this is useful for troubleshooting any issues within the network.

NetFlow Collector

This is another option that is used to access the NetFlow data. The collector is a reporting server that collects the traffic data and processes it then exports it to make it easier to analyze.

The two main categories of NetFlow collectors are software-based collectors and hardware-based collectors. The most common of the two is the software-based solutions.

Why NetFlow?

One of the main benefits of using NetFlow is for network monitoring. Businesses and users are able to utilize flow-based analysis techniques and visualize the traffic patterns. With this view of the traffic, you have the ability to not only monitor when people access an application but also how often.

Feeling Like a NetFlow Pro?

We hope that now that we answered the question “What Is NetFlow?” you are feeling more confident about it. This will allow you to make informed decisions when it relates to your business.

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