How NetFlow Works

NetFlow is a network protocol developed by Cisco for collecting IP traffic information and monitoring network traffic. By analyzing flow data, a picture of network traffic flow and volume can be built. Using a NetFlow collector and analyzer, you can see where network traffic is coming from and going to and how much traffic is being generated.

What is a NetFlow Collector?

What is a NetFlow Collector?

Routers that have the NetFlow feature enabled generate NetFlow records. These records are exported from the router and collected using a NetFlow collector. The NetFlow collector then processes the data to perform the traffic analysis and presentation in a user-friendly format. NetFlow collectors can take the form of hardware-based collectors (probes) or software-based collectors

Other Flow Technologies

While the term NetFlow has become a de-facto industry standard, many other network hardware manufacturers support alternative flow technologies:

  • Juniper® (Jflow)
  • 3Com/HP® , Dell® , and Netgear® (s-flow)
  • Huawei® (NetStream)
  • Alcatel-Lucent® (Cflow)
  • Ericsson® (Rflow)

Want to Know More?

Want to Know More?

Red these articles on thwack, SolarWinds community for IT professionals.

NetFlow v9 Datagram Knowledge Series

Experience for yourself how a software-based NetFlow collector and analyzer works by downloading a free trial of SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer.

NetFlow Collectors

SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) is an example of a software-based NetFlow collector that collects traffic data, correlates it into a useable format, and then presents it to the user in a web-based interface.

Top 5 Reasons to Download NetFlow Traffic Analyzer

  1. Monitors network bandwidth & traffic patterns down to the interface level
  2. Identifies which users, applications, & protocols are consuming the most bandwidth
  3. Highlights the IP addresses of top talkers
  4. Analyzes Cisco® NetFlow, Juniper® J-Flow, IPFIX, sFlow® , Huawei NetStream™ & other flow data
  5. Typically deploys in less than an hour