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Riverbed SteelCentral NetShark
Network Troubleshooting - High Performance Packet Capture

Cascade Shark appliance(s) Formerly Known As: Cascade Shark appliance(s)

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Business Challenge

When business-critical applications fail the impact can be serious. You need to be one step ahead with real-time, actionable information to identify and diagnose problems before your business is impacted. Unfortunately, many monitoring tools take slices of data that can omit the most meaningful data set. Or if the data is captured, it can take a large file transfer in order to conduct analysis, exacerbating network performance problems. You need a better way to ensure that packet- level information is always available for troubleshooting and for granular, real-time, and back-in-time analysis.

The Riverbed Solution

The Riverbed SteelCentralTM NetShark solution quickly captures, indexes, and stores all data packets without the need for file transfers. It exports summarized metrics derived from the packet data to the SteelCentral NetProfiler for the advanced behavioral analysis, monitoring, reporting, and alerting on application performance. Because the metrics from SteelCentral NetShark are deduplicated and integrated with flow-based data from other sources and stored in the same logical record, IT operators can streamline the troubleshooting workflow and accelerate the triage process.

By continuously recording the packets traversing the network, rich troubleshooting details are always available when you need them, saving time and money by minimizing the effect downtime has on business productivity and by reducing or avoiding business-stopping slowdowns or outages. Via the integration with SteelCentralTM Packet Analyzer software, you can conduct robust analysis and reporting of packet recordings on remote SteelCentral NetShark instances without having to transfer large packet capture files across the network. By continuously capturing and storing multi-terabytes of recordings, SteelCentral NetShark also enhances your productivity since you don’t have to wait for problems to appear again or to try to simulate them in order to diagnose issues

Key benefits

  • Accelerate troubleshooting with fast retrieval and analysis of packet and transaction data
  • Solve intermittent performance problems without having to recreate them
  • Gain end-to-end visibility for a complete understanding of your network
  • Accommodate any monitoring requirement with flexible storage capacity options

Product Integration

  • Best used with Riverbed SteelCentral Packet Analyzer software and Wireshark software for seamless handoff and streamlined troubleshooting
  • SteelHead appliances running Riverbed Optimization System (RiOS) version 7.0 or later include SteelCentral NetShark packet capture functionality for remote site troubleshooting without affecting WAN optimization
  • SteelCentral NetShark module adds rich network intelligence to supplement the existing end-user experience monitoring and transaction analysis provided by Riverbed SteelCentral AppResponse
  • Streamlined network transaction troubleshooting workflow between SteelCentral NetShark to SteelCentral Packet Analyzer to Transaction Analyzer for off-line, multi-tier, user transaction analysis for diagnosing root cause quickly and easily.
    (Requires software release 8.6.2 or newer, on models 4200, 5000, or 6000.)

Key Features:

Powerful packet capture and storage

  • Monitors and troubleshoots complex or intermittent performance and security-related problems, without having to transfer large files across the network
  • Capable of sustained line-rate, multi-gigabit per second recording, and storage of network traffic using highperformance 1Gb or 10Gb copper or fiber interfaces; up to four 10Gb interfaces per SteelCentral NetShark appliance
  • Real-time and back-in time analysis on remote trace files with SteelCentral Packet Analyzer
  • Flexible alert options by SNMP for monitoring network devices

Smart packet indexing to unify flow monitoring and packet-based data

  • With real-time indexing of packet data, you can easily search terabytes of data for a seamless transition between flowbased information in SteelCentral NetProfiler appliance and packetlevel information in SteelCentral NetShark appliance

Allocate capture jobs and packet storage based on application type

  • Perform multiple, separate capture jobs on a SteelCentral NetShark appliance and dedicate different amounts of storage to each job to flexibly extend storage time for critical applications

Capture what you need for regulatory compliance or time-sensitive applications

  • Selective recording for regulatory compliance: with requirements such as PCI DSS or HIPAA, you can record and store just the right amount of packet data and also extend the amount of packet data and length of time that it can be stored
  • Precision time stamping: critical for low-latency trading environments, timesensitive applications, and multi-segment analysis, SteelCentral NetShark adopts the precision time stamps from network tap aggregators such as Gigamon, cPackets, Ixia-Anue, and VSS Monitoring

Built-in visibility and packet capture in SteelHead appliances

  • Acts as a SteelCentral probe, making it easy to gather packet data and receive flow data from the branch
  • Provides remote-site troubleshooting with packet capture; a subset of NetShark capabilities is embedded in every Riverbed SteelHead appliance without affecting core WAN optimization
  • Eliminates the need to deploy a dedicated probe — or even a remote site technician — to extend SteelCentral application-aware network performance management to a WAN optimized environment

Deployment flexibility

  • Can be deployed in four ways for maximum coverage: dedicated appliance, virtualized software (SteelCentral NetShark Virtual Edition), add-on module (NetShark module on SteelCentralTM AppResponse) or as embedded functionality in Riverbed SteelHead WAN optimization products TM

Application Intelligence

  • Recognize and monitor application types, including well-known, custom-developed, virtualized, peer-to-peer, VoIP and web-based applications with deep packet inspection (DPI)


SteelCentral NetShark
  SteelCentral NetShark Appliances SteelCentral NetShark Virtual Edition AppResponse NetShark Module Embedded NetShark on SteelHead SteelCentral NetShark on SteelHead EX
Continuous capture -
On-demand capture
Packet indexing for fast analysis
Flow export to NetProfiler **
Analysis by SteelCentral Packet Analyzer
Monitor live traffic with views and watches  
Monitors virtual environment - - -
Supports real-time traffic (VoIP) -
Package storage capacity 4TB to 32TB 50GB to 2TB 8TB to 264TB* 15GB to 119GB 300GB to 4TB***
*264TB with ARX 6000 – three expansion chassis **SteelCentral Flow export is performed by SteelHead itself, not embedded NetShark functionality ***Packet storage capacity is based on customer allocation via Riverbed Virtual Services Platform (VSP) on Riverbed SteelHeadTM EX series deployments
SteelCentral NetShark Appliances
Size Storage NIC Slots Capture Cards
CSK 1100 1U 4TB 1 2-Port 1GbE card, 4-Port 1GbE card, or 4-Port 1Gb SFP card
CSK 2100 2U 8TB 2 Any combination of 4-Port 1GbE card, 4-Port 1Gb SFP card, or 2-Port 10Gb SFP +card Up to 2 NICs per system
CSK 2200 2U 16TB 2
CSK 3100 3U 16TB 2
CSK 3200 3U 32TB 2

SteelCentral NetShark Virtual Edition
Models VSK-00050 VSK-00200 VSK-00400
Packet Storage Up to 50GB Up to 1TB Up to 2TB
Hypervisor VMware ESXi 5.0, 5.1, 5.5
vCPU 2
Memory 2GB
System Disk Space 30GB
Capture Ports Up to 4
Management Ports 2
Additionally, SteelCentralTM NetExpress is an all-in-one solution that combines the best of flow and packet capture plus monitoring for small to medium enterprises. The SteelCentral NetExpress 460 appliance accommodates flow rates ranging from 15,000 to 120,000 flows per minute.
SteelCentral NetExpress 460 Series
Models U L M H VH
Flow Capacity 15,000 30,000 60,000 90,000 120,000


Download the Riverbed SteelCentral NetShark Datasheet (.PDF)

Pricing Notes: