Do You Know About Optical TAP (Traffic Access Point) Cassettes?
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Do You Know About Optical TAP (Traffic Access Point) Cassettes?

Posted on by FS.COM

The need for real-time network traffic monitoring in today’s intelligent data center has become compelling. Data center network administrators need to gain better visibility of their networks, optimize the performance of mission-critical applications and, more importantly, secure their networks. Optical traffic access point (TAP) cassettes are hardware tools that allow you to monitor your network, which make a 100% copy of your network’s data allowing your monitoring tools to see every bit, byte and packet. In fact, TAP cassettes are one of the most efficient ways to monitor traffic and network link quality in data center and telecom carrier networks. Have you ever used this kind of device in your network? Let’s get close to TAP cassettes together in this article.

What Is an Optical TAP Cassette?
Optical TAP is an access point install in networks that provides real-time monitoring of ports. Typically, the data is used to monitor for security threats, performance issues, and optimization of the network. Optical TAP cassette is a passive device that integrates TAP functionality into cable patching system, which requires no power of its own and does not actively interact with other components of the network. Instead of two switches or routers connecting directly to each other, the optical TAP cassette sits between the two endpoint devices connected directly to each of them. Then traffic is copied and once the traffic is tapped, the copy can be used for any sort of monitoring, security, or analytical use. Thus, TAP cassettes are a key component of any visibility system.

TAP cassette

How Does an Optical TAP Cassette Work?
Optical fiber is designed to send light from a transceiver through a thin glass cable to a receiver on the other end. Instead of connecting directly to each other, each of the two endpoint nodes (switches, routers, database, etc) are connected to network ports on the TAP cassette. A TAP cassette usually integrates both network ports and monitoring ports in a module and it includes an optical splitter, which “splits” off a percentage of the input power and sends it to a monitoring device. As shown in the figure below, we can connect the TAP cassette to the Switch X and Switch Y via network ports and connect TAP cassette to monitoring device via monitoring ports.

TAP cassette
By using the splitter, we can see that a part of TX data of Switch X transmits to RX of Switch Y and another part of TX data of Switch X transmits to monitor. Similarly, a part of TX data of Switch Y transmits to RX of Switch X and another part of TX data of Switch Y transmits to monitor. The monitored traffic is thus separated into two transmit (TX-only) signals, one copy from endpoint A (Switch X), and one copy from endpoint B (Switch Y). The proportional share of light for each path (transmit to network and monitor) is known as the split ratio. The split ratio is written as a combination of two percentages. The first number is designated as the network percentage. The second number is the monitor percentage. They always add up to 100 percent. For example, a common split ratio for traditional 1Gb short-range links is 70/30, where 70% of the light continues to the network and 30% is allocated to the monitor port.

How to Connect an Optical TAP Cassette in Your Network?
Before you connect the fiber optic cable into a TAP cassette, make sure that the TAP cassette characteristics is compatible with the cables. At present, TAP cassettes are mainly available in LC and MTP two port types. Take the MTP TAP cassette for example, and following steps below to connect an optical TAP cassette to your network:

TAP LGX cassette

  • To connect TAP cassette to the network (in-line links)

1.Connect MTP network port to switch A using a MTP cable.
2.Connect another MTP network port to switch B using a MTP cable.

  • To connect TAP cassette to the monitoring device

1.Connect TAP monitor port to monitoring device using a MTP cable for switch A monitoring.
2.Connect another TAP monitor port to monitoring device using a MTP cable for switch B monitoring.

Data center networks are becoming more and more complex making it more difficult to trouble shoot and balance traffic within LANs and SANs. Optical TAP cassettes allow network and storage engineers to gather valuable data analytics, which give you a much fuller understanding of your data flow patterns and allow you to plan your technology integrations accordingly. FS.COM provide a series of 10G, 40G or 100G TAP LGX cassettes, and is available in single-mode or multi-mode with a 50/50 or 70/30 split ratio. For more information, please contact us via or call 24/7 Customer Service: 1 (718) 577 1006.

Related article: Network TAP – The Best for Real-time Network Monitoring

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