Big Data may require more complex networking infrastructure, but can it also help improve networking? WildPackets thinks so, and has unveiled a product, WatchPoint 3.0, that highlights some important new trends in the way enterprises are leveraging Big Data analytics to deliver scalable, granular, real-time improvements to network traffic.

Network-traffic analysis is nothing new, of course. From the simple Unix tcpdump utility to more advanced analytical tools such as snort and Wireshark (to name just a couple of major open source programs), there's no shortage of applications for monitoring network activity at the packet level.

WatchPoint 3.0 sets new precedents, however, because it is "the first distributed network monitoring solution that uses Big Data technology to capture all network flow and packet analysis data with one-minute granularity," according to WildPackets. That sets it apart from other applications that focus on identifying long-term trends, rather than the real-time intervention that WatchPoint makes possible.

The company also said the Big Data methodology behind the product makes it unique in its class: "WatchPoint 3.0 uses a new Big Data architecture with a vast, flexible, and highly responsive data store that supports rich analysis of historical network activity."

Using this Big Data approach, WatchPoint 3.0 offers a range of features with wide applicability for the enterprise. Systems administrators may be particularly attracted to the VoIP reporting functionality, which can provide a call detail record based on all network activity for up to one year; and to tracking of business applications such as Oracle (ORCL) Financials, SAP (SAP) or NetSuite (N) for use with compliance enforcement.

From the perspective of the channel, WatchPoint 3.0, which is available as of this week, offers a glimpse into the future of network-traffic analysis. As virtualization, the cloud and rich media generate ever-larger amounts of network activity, and as Big Data analytics techniques converge with packet-level network monitoring, enterprises and channel partners can look forward to a new generation of reporting applications.