Big Switch Networks is excited to announce general availability of the Big Tap Monitoring Fabric Release 3.0 – production-grade SDN solution on commodity bare-metal switches. This release further enhances deployment flexibility, simplifies policy management and fabric operations and enables a much higher scale as our customers broaden deployments to hundreds of tap & span ports per data center to meet their growing monitoring needs. 

This blog highlights Release 3.0 features and benefits and also lists several customer use cases.  For background on the Big Tap Monitoring Fabric solution, please see the earlier blog: Next-Generation Monitoring Fabrics based on Bare-metal SDN.

Release 3.0 Features and Benefits

Started as an R&D project with one of the world’s largest data center operators in 2012, the Big Tap Monitoring Fabric has become the first production-grade SDN solution for customers.  With this latest software release, we continue the tradition of close collaboration with our customers and partners to drive feature requirements and use cases.

Below are the key highlights of Big Tap Monitoring Fabric, Release 3.0:


  • Auto-Installation: To achieve rapid switch provisioning, the Big Tap solution supports automatic installation of Big Switch’s Switch Light OS on bare-metal switches using the ONIE (Open Network Installation Environment) specification.
  • GUI Enhancements: The GUI now includes an extensive dashboard, dynamic topology views, comprehensive operational stats and complete RBAC management.
  • Fabric Management & Programmability: Big Tap Controller further simplifies policy provisioning, fabric management and extensive programmability.  Administrators can leverage GUI or CLI (both of which utilize the underlying REST API framework), or enable programmatic access via REST for event-driven programming of the monitoring fabric.


  • IPv6 Support: Monitoring policies now support rules based on IPv4 and IPv6 constructs, allowing monitoring flexibility for our Asia-Pacific customer base as well as for mobile 4G LTE networks.
  • Fine-grain Role-based Access Control (RBAC): With additional enhancements to the RBAC functionality, the Big Tap Monitoring Solution enables true multi-tenancy. Various IT teams (NetOps, DevOps, SecOps) can directly and on-demand access network traffic, eliminating delays due to manual setup and provisioning of the monitoring infrastructure.
  • Intelligent Policy Resolution: Multiple Ops teams can now independently create and manage their monitoring policies, reducing the engineering effort needed to manage these policies.  When two or more monitoring policies are applied to a common set of flows, the Big Tap policy compiler resolves overlaps, optimally replicates traffic within the fabric and, forwards it to corresponding tools.


  • Tool Scaling: Big Tap Monitoring Fabric provides network-based load balancing of tools.  In addition to scaling tool bandwidth, this capability also allows customers to leverage their existing 1G tools in 10G environments.
  • Fabric Scaling: For large-scale data centers that require aggregation of hundreds of taps, the Big Tap Monitoring Fabric provides a 3-layer scale-out deployment with ingress filter layer (for tap aggregation), core/service layer (for scaling and NPB service node connectivity) and delivery layer (for connecting to tools).   Fabric supports port speeds of 1G, 10G and 40G on commodity bare-metal switches.
  • Policy Scaling: Significant scaling enhancements have been made to the entire policy and flow-processing logic – leveraging sophisticated optimization algorithms, masking techniques and compression schemes, to enable large scale (data center-wide) monitoring across multiple IT teams.

Customer Use Cases

Simplicity, versatility, scale as well as cost efficiency of the Big Tap Monitoring Fabric solution are enabling increasingly broader set of use cases in both enterprise and service provider environments.

1. Data Center Troubleshooting and the 1GE to 10GE Transition: Due to multi-core servers, virtualization and cloud computing, most data center operators are migrating their 1G data center infrastructure (taps included) to 10G.  With Big Tap Monitoring Fabric, data center operators are able to not only deploy a cost-effective, next-generation monitoring infrastructure that supports 1G, 10G and 40G but also provide investment protection for existing 1G tools.

2. Tap Sharing in Multi-Tenant Environments:  To bring agility and reduce cost, IT organizations are now architecting a shared monitoring infrastructure across multiple operations teams.  Big Tap solution is architected for multi-tenancy from the ground-up, with fine-grain role based access control (RBAC). IT can allow least-privilege (need-to-know) access to different teams so they can independently create policies on the Big Tap Controller via GUI/CLI or programmatically via REST APIs.  Big Tap Controller’s policy engine has the intelligence to resolve overlapping policies.

3. Monitoring of 4G/LTE Networks: With tremendous growth of 4G/LTE networks, Mobile operators have a challenge in deploying scalable, multi-tenant and cost-effective monitoring solution in mobile packet core.  Tap or SPAN traffic emanates from Service Gateways (S-GWs), Packet Data Network Gateways (P-GW), inter-GW links as well as SGi interfaces.  With Big Tap Monitoring Fabric, mobile operators can gain the needed visibility across the entire packet data network for trouble shooting, SLA measurements, bearer-level compliance, lawful intercepts, and auditing.

Risk-free SDN & Bare Metal Switching

Many IT organizations are looking to showcase SDN and bare metal switching.  They see the Big Tap Monitoring Fabric solution as an ideal (risk-free) starting point where they can gain hands-on experience with bare metal switches and an SDN controller-based architecture.  Not only are they driving innovation into their organizations, but they are also bringing additional benefits of cost savings, flexibility and simplification to their monitoring environments.

For additional details on the use case and solutions, please download our white papers.  To learn more about the Big Tap Monitoring Fabric solution or request a lab trial, please email to:

Additional Resources:

 --Prashant Gandhi, Big Switch VP of Product Management