About Flexible Inline Maps

Traffic flows are the building blocks of flexible inline arrangements. Flows can be based on any flow mapping criteria, such as TCP port, IP subnet, or VLAN. There is a one-to-one correspondence between a traffic flow and a flexible inline map.

A flexible inline map is a new map type. Flexible inline arrangements allow inline maps from inline networks to arbitrary sequences of shared (overlapping) sequences of inline tools and inline tool groups.

Using flexible inline maps, you can identify specific flows of traffic using Layer 2 (L2) to Layer 4 (L4) rules, then designate the tools that will inspect the traffic, and specify the order of traffic to the tools.

You can configure a flexible inline map with a specific inline tool that is part of an inline tool group, which is associated with another flexible inline map. For example, you have created an inline tool group, ITG1 in which inline tools, IT1, IT2, and IT3 are grouped together. You can configure a flexible inline map, Map1 with inline network, IN1 as the source leader in a bidirectional clock relationship (formerly master) and ITG1 as the destination. You can configure a second flexible inline map, Map2 with IN1 as source and IT1 as destination. Such configuration is useful to guide specific traffic to a particular inline tool and the rest of the traffic to the inline tool group in which the inline tool is associated.

To properly guide traffic through the inline tools, each flow of traffic is assigned a VLAN tag. VLAN tags can be automatically assigned or can be user-defined. You can use flexible inline single tags to map incoming VLANs on the network side to the outgoing VLANs on the tool side.

With flexible inline arrangements, VLAN tags are associated with each inline map, not with each inline network port as in the case of classic inline bypass. A single inline network port can have multiple inline maps, each with a separate VLAN tag.

For example, traffic flows can be defined with the following VLAN tags:

■   Unspecified traffic—VLAN 101
■   Web traffic—VLAN 102
■   Email traffic—VLAN 103
■   Database traffic—VLAN 104

Note:  The VLAN tags are added to the traffic before it is sent to the tools and are removed before it is sent back to the network.