sFlow (short for “sampled flow”) is a popular networking technology supported by various networking vendors to monitor data traffic exchanged by switches and routers. It was first defined in Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)’s Informational RFC 3176 and was later updated to sFlow version 5 based on a common specification maintained by the sFlow.org group.
An sFlow monitoring system consists of an sFlow Agent (embedded in a switch or router) and of a central sFlow Collector. An sFlow Agent uses traffic sampling techniques to capture traffic statistics from the device it is monitoring and to achieve scalability in high-speed networks (Gbps speeds and higher). sFlow datagrams are used to convey the sampled traffic statistics to an sFlow Collector for analysis.
A central Collector can aggregate the information exported from thousands of agents, which makes it suitable to provide continuous data center-wide (and even multi-site) traffic visibility into high-speed switched and routed networks.
An sFlow monitoring system enables administrators to obtain the statistics required to effectively control and manage network usage. It supports visibility into application-level traffic flows on all physical interfaces. You can use this information to troubleshoot a network, to perform diagnostics, and to analyze traffic patterns and network efficiency. Hence, you can use the sFlow functionality to ensure that network services match or exceed the requirements set forth by businesses.