Passive Optical TAPs: Network Visibility without Disruption

Passive Optical TAPs: Network Visibility without Disruption

Network visibility is a top priority for many IT managers. When networks become larger and more complex, monitoring for performance and security is no longer optional, it becomes critical. Industries such as financial, medical, and telecom markets need visibility tools to manage their networks and handle troubleshooting quickly and efficiently. And it needs to be done without adding any disruptions to the network. 

That’s why more IT directors are using fiber optic TAPs to monitor network links. 

What is a TAP? 
A traffic analysis point (TAP) is designed to allow traffic sent over a fiber optic path to be monitored for security or network performance. The tap is positioned in the passive cabling system between a host and recipient device.

TAPs provide a window into your data for security or surveillance. But they also make it possible to look at data packets and advise the network administrator on how the network is performing in real time. Analyzing data in real time can be as simple as viewing a bank transaction or seeing if a health care record was placed in the correct file. And when there are millions of transactions happening constantly, TAPs will help find any bottlenecks in your network.

Passive optical TAPs offer a number of distinct advantages for enterprise data centers:

  • TAPs pass all link traffic for monitoring. Even corrupt data will not be rejected, so users are able to see everything in real time
  • There is no programming or switch configuring required with a passive TAP
  • They are invisible to the network: they place no burden on the network or any changes to packets or data transmitted through the link
  • They offer full duplex port monitoring with a transmit and receive path that is scalable at data rates. This means you won’t encounter oversubscription when using a passive TAP

Deploying Passive TAPs in the Network
Traditionally, when installing a passive TAP, one would add a dedicated TAP panel and extend a patch cord from the TAP panel to the network patching environment. In contrast, Leviton has built TAP technology into its existing cassette footprint so it can be part of the patching environment instead of an additional element added to the network. This integration eliminates the need for a dedicated TAP panel and therefore removes two additional connections from the channel. 

The integrated design also conserves rack space, since no additional TAP panel is required. With TAP ports on the rear of the cassette instead of front, no patching density is lost. The image below shows a 1RU HDX panel, with the TAP cassette removed and the rear MTP TAP port in blue. This design allows for monitoring of all 72 ports in the panel.

HDX MTP-LC TAP Cassette

Passive TAP adoption will continue to grow, with products now available that can be built into the existing patching environment, reducing the number of connections required in the structured cabling infrastructure, and in turn lowering channel insertion loss. When considering passive TAPs, it is important to choose low-loss components that will contribute to the best channel performance for your network.

To learn more about passive optical TAPs, including how to deploy them in 10 and 40 Gb/s channels, download our free white paper.