What does Intermapper Flows do, and how does it work? If you’re an Intermapper user who does not yet utilize Intermapper Flows, the add-on tool can provide you with valuable historic data about how your bandwidth is being consumed that can simplify troubleshooting and guide network capacity planning.
If you’re curious whether Intermapper Flows is right for you, we answer some of the top questions about the tool below.
- How does Intermapper Flows work?
Intermapper Flows collects data flowing across your devices and interfaces using Flows protocols such as NetFlow, sFlow, J-Flow, and IPFIX. The software collects Flows data from exporters such as routers, switches, firewalls, etc. which the network administrator determines and configures ahead of time. That data is displayed visually in charts in a graphical user interface, into which you can drill down to get the answers you need. Charts typically show 15-minute increments of data, but you can adjust the timeframe to analyze a specific point in time.
- What are the benefits of using Intermapper Flows?
As an add-on software tool to Intermapper, Intermapper provides deeper visibility into network usage, making it easy to answer questions about how bandwidth is being consumed by devices, applications, and users. As a historical Flow analysis product, it allows you to go back in time to a specific moment to identify exactly when and how bandwidth was being utilized. The tool allows you to identify top talkers, downloads, frequently visited websites, and IPs that are connected to the largest number of hosts.
The graphical user interface is easy to read and understand, and graphs can be useful for sharing with stakeholders or IT leaders to illustrate issues, plan for future capacity needs, or make the case for network infrastructure updates.
- What are some standard use cases in which Intermapper Flows could be used?
Network professionals could use Intermapper Flows to:
- Respond quickly to DDoS attacks, by being able to see information about the attack
- Identify abnormal traffic spikes and where they originated
- Understand how inbound or outbound bandwidth use has changed
- Get historical performance information for compliance and security purposes
- Get overall information about network use including the source, destination, protocol, and volume of traffic
- How do you setup and install Intermapper Flows?
Before installing Intermapper Flows, verify that your equipment supports Flows. Intermapper Flows is installed automatically with Intermapper. You can install it either on the Intermapper server or a separate server. One important note is that you’ll want to remove firewall restrictions on selected UDP ports (2055 and 6343 default).
You’ll need to configure one or more Flows exporters to send data to the Intermapper Flows server. Most vendors supply documentation on how to do this (see helpful resources for Cisco and Juniper). Once configured, Intermapper Flows will detect those exporters and start collecting data.
You can use the Flows Settings window to view and edit the software settings, including which exporters you want to collect from, color customization, and setting performance-related parameters, database path, and database size.
- How is Intermapper Flows licensed?
Licensing for Intermapper Flows is based on the number of exporters you want to configure. Contact us for a custom quote.
- Can I use Intermapper Flows to detect new devices?
Yes. In Intermapper 6.1 and later, administrators can use Intermapper Flows to detect new devices that have connected to the network. (Note: this feature doesn’t require an Intermapper Flows license.) As new devices connect to your network, Flows identifies then and displays them in the DetectionMap. Administrators can then move these devices into existing maps for active monitoring as desired.
- How far back can NetFlow data be stored before it’s purged or overwritten?
You specify how much data you want the database to keep, so the amount of Flow data the software keeps is up to you.
- Can Intermapper Flows be installed on a different server than Intermapper?
Yes. Intermapper Flows and Intermapper don’t have to run on the same server. If you want a higher performance system for NetFlow analysis, you may want to install Intermapper Flows on a separate server. If you run Intermapper Flows on a separate server, the Intermapper server and the Intermapper Flows will communicate through a TCP connection.
- How many exporters will I need?
The number of exporters you’ll need will vary depending on the size of your network, your equipment, and your preferences. Most people want to understand traffic at the edge of their network. For example, if you only have one gateway router on your network, you may only want to configure one exporter. Configuring a firewall or a Layer 3 switch as an exporter would be a good place to start.
- How do I plan for Flows traffic and storage?
The amount of Flows traffic you analyze will depend on how many Flows you capture. The more Flows you capture, the more the database will continue to grow. Offloading the storage on a separate server can help eliminate any noticeable impact on your network performance.
- How can I use Intermapper Flows as a security tool?
Smaller organizations don’t always have budget for security software. If your business does not have intrusion detection software and can’t afford it, you can use Intermapper Flows to provide a tier 1 approach to security. As a security baseline, the software can identify the traffic that is hitting your routers. By understanding what type of data is coming in and going out, along with which protocols are in use, you can more easily detect anything suspicious or out of the ordinary.
- Can I try Intermapper Flows before I purchase it?
Yes, you can. We offer a fully functional trial version of Intermapper Flows. Contact us at [email protected] to request a free trial license to experiment with Flows features in your own network environment.
- Do you have a demo of the software that I can watch?
You can watch this video to see a live demonstration of Intermapper Flows (demo begins at 33:30). To request a live demo with one of our technical consultants, please contact your sales rep or email us at [email protected].
How do I get started?
Get a quote for Intermapper Flows licenses by filling out the quote request form. If you’re already an Intermapper customer, please specify your interest in Intermapper Flows in the comment box.