Packet flow

What is a packet?

A packet is a multi-byte unit of data transmitted at one time by a host on a packet-based network. The actual packet consists of the user data, called the "payload," and control information that the network uses to deliver the payload. "Packet" is often used interchangeably with "frame," although some people distinguish packets as messages at the network layer and above, and frames as messages that include the data link and sometimes even the physical layers.

NETSCOUT's Omnis Security platform  utilizes packet-based analysis for advanced threat analytics and response.

What is a network packet?

A network packet is a unit of data transmitted across a packet-switched network. Such packets contain control information and user data. Control information, which typically includes source and destination network addresses, error detection codes, or sequencing data, enables payload delivery. This information is contained in packet headers and trailers. Packets are instrumental to the function of telecommunications and computer networking.

NETSCOUT solutions utilize packet data to enable rapid IT troubleshooting,  predictive analysis, network topology & health diagnostics reporting.

What is packet loss?

Packet loss happens as a result of a single, or multiple packets of data, traversing a computer network, but then failing to arrive at their intended destination.  Such a failure can be caused by errors in the transmission of the data over a wireless or wired network. It can also be the result of network congestion. Packet loss is defined as a percentage of packets lost compared to the number of packets sent.

When packet loss is detected by the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), retransmission of the packets is attempted to ensure messages are completed. In some cases, packet loss is intentionally introduced through the TCP connection in order to reduce throughput and alleviate network congestion.

Packet loss can adversely impact a user's quality-of-experience (QoE), particularly in real-time applications, such as online gaming and streaming media.

NETSCOUT's nGeniusONE solution helps minimize disruptions and optimize performance by monitoring and trending incoming traffic for internet circuits and VPN gateways. Metrics for traffic volume, dropped packets, and errors provide early warning of potential issues impacting users.

What is a packet tracer?

A Packet Tracer enables users to simulate computer network topologies. This cross-platform, visualization tool was created by Cisco Systems.  Packet Tracer software simulates the configuration of Cisco routers and switches using a mocked-up command line interface. 

Packet Tracer software is primarily used by students enrolled in Cisco Network Associate Academy. This tool is used for educational purposes in learning basic CCNA concepts.

What is packet switching?

Packet switching involves taking data and grouping it into packets, which are then transmitted over a telecommunications network. Packet switching is the principle way data communications are conducted across computer networks around the world.  The packets themselves are composed of a header and a payload. The data contained in the header is utilized by hardware at the network level, directing the packet to its designated destination. Once the packet arrives at its desitation, the payload is extracted where it is processed by an operating system, higher layer protocols, or application software.

nGenius Packet Flow eXtender

What is a Packet Broker?

A packet broker is a hardware or software appliance that directs network traffic from multiple SPAN ports and manipulates the traffic to allow more efficient use of network tools and monitoring devices on the network.

Packet brokers are tasked with gathering traffic from numerous network links, then filtering and redirecting the individual packets to the optimal network monitoring tool. By improving the delivery of data across the network, the effectiveness of network monitoring and security tools is attained.

What is a packet analyzer, protocol analyzer or network analyzer?

A packet analyzer is a software program or computer hardware (packet capture appliance) that is used to catch and then log traffic traversing a computer network or part of that network. A packet analyzer may also be referred to as a network analyzer, packet sniffer, or protocol analyzer. (The terms  network analyzer and protocol analyzer can also have other meanings.) 

Packet capture occurs when the analyzer intercepts each packet as the data streams flow throughout the network. In some cases, the analyzer is tasked with decoding raw data found in the packet in order to reveal the values of certain fields found in the packet. The contents of the packet are analyzed per the applicable specifications.

When a packet analyzer is employed to capture traffic on a wireless network, it is referred to as a wireless analyzer.

What is a PCAP?

PCAP is an industry standard acronym for packet capture. In addition, the term is used to describe the capture output file format, typically labeled with the extension .pcap, used by common tools such as Wireshark or TCPDump.

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