Flow monitoring explained: from packet capture to data analysis with NetFlow and IPFIX

R.J. Hofstede, Pavel Celeda, Brian Trammell, Idilio Drago, R. Sadre, Anna Sperotto, Aiko Pras

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    296 Citations (Scopus)
    11277 Downloads (Pure)


    Flow monitoring has become a prevalent method for monitoring traffic in high-speed networks. By focusing on the analysis of flows, rather than individual packets, it is often said to be more scalable than traditional packet-based traffic analysis. Flow monitoring embraces the complete chain of packet observation, flow export using protocols such as NetFlow and IPFIX, data collection, and data analysis. In contrast to what is often assumed, all stages of flow monitoring are closely intertwined. Each of these stages therefore has to be thoroughly understood, before being able to perform sound flow measurements. Otherwise, flow data artifacts and data loss can be the consequence, potentially without being observed. This paper is the first of its kind to provide an integrated tutorial on all stages of a flow monitoring setup. As shown throughout this paper, flow monitoring has evolved from the early nineties into a powerful tool, and additional functionality will certainly be added in the future. We show, for example, how the previously opposing approaches of Deep Packet Inspection and flow monitoring have been united into novel monitoring approaches.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)2037-2064
    Number of pages29
    JournalIEEE communications surveys & tutorials
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


    • EWI-25179
    • IR-93156
    • METIS-309610

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