Plixer Brings Concentrated Focus to NetFlow Reporting and Analysis

Security Special

Plixer Brings Concentrated Focus to NetFlow Reporting and Analysis

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  March 01, 2012

Plixer Brings Concentrated Focus to NetFlow Reporting and Analysis

This article originally appeared in the March issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.

When it comes to the heart, most folks go to a specialist to address what ails them. When it comes to the network, tapping a specialist is also the ideal prescription.

That’s the word from Plixer International Inc., which provides NetFlow solutions.  

“Plixer focuses on NetFlow, IPFIX and all other types of flow reporting and analysis,” says Michael Patterson (News - Alert), Scrutinizer product manager for and founder of Plixer International. “We are a pure play in this market. We are not a jack of all trades like SolarWinds (News - Alert) and CA. We only want to be in the flow reporting market.”

The company’s Scrutinizer software helps organizations monitor their network traffic to identify individuals who are using an abnormally large amount of bandwidth. That enables network administrators to adjust the network privileges of those users as needed, and in the process ensure there’s adequate bandwidth to run business applications.

Scrutinizer’s domain utilization report can even provide insight related to connections to sites like (News - Alert) and BestBuy that use encrypted traffic. Plixer notes this capability is especially important for businesses during the holiday shopping season, when many employees may use work time to make non-work-related purchases online.

But with all the smartphones on the networks these days, Patterson says, there is a tremendous amount of personal traffic on corporate networks year round. The company’s software allows organizations to track that, so they know how much traffic is going to what applications – like, for example, Facebook (News - Alert). Employers typically want to do that for two reasons. First, because having employees visiting non-work-related websites during work hours is a distraction. And second, because most smartphones don’t have anti-virus software on them, so they could infect corporate Wi-Fi networks.

To protect against viruses and the like, Plixer technology uses algorithms that constantly run against the flows from routers and look for phones that are acting in a suspicious manner or are scanning the network. Also, Scrutinizer has a current list of known Internet threats, so users of the software can see if devices on the corporate network are communicating with those threat sources, explains Patterson.

The company at Cisco Live in late January announced the availability of Scrutinizer 9.0, for which it provided a live demo at the event that involved the solution streaming and analyzing real-time NetFlow data collected from Cisco Live’s network. 

New features delivered through Scrutinizer 9.0 include a high-performance Linux appliance that collects over 100,000 flows per second; new Cisco Advanced NetFlow reports that provide in-depth network traffic visibility including Smart Logging and Telemetry, Cisco TrustSec, Performance Routing and Performance monitoring (Medianet); advanced Citrix NetScaler reports detailing URLs, applications and latency; advanced SonicWALL (News - Alert) VPN reports identifying VPN names as well as remote and local addresses; and CrossCheck to provide deeper integration with third-party tools (What’s Up Gold, Orion, SNMPc, Uptime Devices, Nimsoft, etc.).

“We have used Scrutinizer on multiple troubleshooting opportunities to isolate what type of traffic was causing the heavy utilization and also what offending devices were doing it. Scrutinizer has more than lived up to its expectations,” says a source from Plixer customer Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

Plixer has a lengthy list of customers – many of them very large entities – from a variety of verticals including education, financial services, government, health care, manufacturing, media, retail, services, technology, transportation, and the utilities. Patterson says the average spend of its customers, which include a few thousand organizations, is around $10,000.

The company’s technology is available in a software-only format or as an appliance. Plixer delivers its solutions primarily through direct sales channels in the U.S., but abroad the channel (including LogicVein Inc. in Asia, Teneo of the U.K., and a wide variety of other systems integrators and value-added resellers around the world) is its main method of distribution.

Patterson founded Plixer several years ago, after having worked at Cabletron Systems and then offering consulting services for network management solutions involving open source. Over time he added more support people and a full time sales person to support his enterprise, which was initially named Somix and later (with a change in ownership) to Plixer. The privately-held company, which has been profitable since its first year of business, now has 28 employees.

Edited by Jennifer Russell


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