What Keeps the Network Monitoring Team Awake at Night, and How Ixia Anue’s AFM16 Can Help

 

The hype surrounding the iPhone 5 release demonstrates one thing – the seemingly unlimited demand from users to do more with their mobile devices is nowhere near satiated. With more and more use of cloud networks, application delivery, and networks-over-the-Internet, the promise and problems of Big Data paradigms will become obvious and well known to all operators – challenges that include capture, storage, search, sharing, analysis, and visualization.

Big Data is large amounts of information that exceed the demands of a typical network because of the size and speed of the data traveling over the network. Big Data is different from traditional IT in many ways, but it still requires monitoring. Key focus areas when managing Big Data are application behavior, network performance and security. The measure of  network monitoring to optimize network traffic sent to monitoring tools lies in the ability to improve the effectiveness and performance of monitoring tools.

Network monitoring is critical to network visibility in the enterprise data centers and the IP-based segments of telecommunication service provider networks. The importance of monitoring is reflected in the large investments large enterprises and service providers make in monitoring tools and the staff to manage them. These network monitoring teams face several challenges, including the following:

  1. Demand for higher data rates outpaces the ability of monitoring tools to keep up
  2. Complying with strict privacy regulations
  3. Increased scrutiny of network performance
  4. Containing the cost of network monitoring

 

  1. 1.     Demand for Higher Data Rates Outpaces Gains in Monitoring Tool Performance

With networks growing in speed and little budget to upgrade tools, network engineers are looking for ways to get better performance from their existing monitoring tools. Some of the issues that drain tool performance include:

More than 50% of packets arriving at a monitoring tool could be duplicate packets. Also, some tools only need the packet header for analysis, in which case most of the data that arrives at the tool are useless. The challenge is to remove the performance-robbing packets from the traffic before they reach the monitoring tool.

  1. 2.     Complying with Strict Privacy Regulations

Businesses that handle sensitive user information are obligated (by SOX, HIPAA, PCI, etc.) to keep such data secure. Some tools provide the ability to trim sensitive data from packets before they are analyzed or stored. However, this comes at the expense of precious computing and tool bandwidth resources. The challenge is to offload the privacy function from tools so they can focus all resources on the analysis and storage for which they were intended.

  1. 3.     Increased Scrutiny of Network Performance

Network performance is under great scrutiny in some network applications, such as high-frequency-trading. For such applications, there are purpose-built monitoring tools that can time each packet as it traverses the network. These latency-sensitive tools depend on timing the packets as close to source as possible. However, such proximity implies exclusive access to the network, which is not practical. The challenge is to deliver both the packet and its timing data to the latency-sensitive tools without compromising access for other network monitoring tools.

  1. 4.     Containing the Cost of Network Monitoring

Network engineers are under pressure to do more with less, including in network monitoring. Successful network monitoring teams not only find ways to save costs, they also find smart ways to leverage their current investment.

There is a rich selection of tools on the market to monitor IP networks. However, in certain parts of the IP-based service provider networks, most of these tools are rendered useless, because the IP traffic is encapsulated using MPLS, GTP, and VNTag. The challenge is to find a way to expose the tunneled IP traffic so widely available tools, including tools the organization already owns, can be deployed.

Ixia Anue has just introduced its Anue Advanced Feature Module 16, which provides advanced packet processing technologies to eliminate redundant network traffic, secure sensitive data and enhance monitoring tool effectiveness. It is the industry’s first high-density, high-capacity advanced packet processing solution designed specifically to enhance network and application performance at large enterprises and data centers.

To learn more about Ixia’s Anue AFM16 and the Anue Net Tool Optimizer, stop by booth #531 at Interop New York, currently taking place at the Javits Convention Center. At the event, Ixia’s Larry Hart and Chip Webb will lead an industry conversation titled “Big Data, Big Visibility, Big Control” on Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. ET.

For more information on the AFM16 module, see the press release

Gartner Research Video: Challenges of the Modern Data Center

 

To keep pace with increasing demands on compute power and bandwidth, data centers face a tremendous challenge. Cloud and the explosion of bandwidth-hungry video and mobile apps all contribute to the challenge. In addition, the trend of dispersed computing across personal computers has reversed, and more computing power and storage is being centralized at the data center.

Alex Pepe, Anue Systems's President and CEO

Alex Pepe, Anue's President and CEO

In the video, Mark Fabbi, VP, distinguished analyst at Gartner Research, and Alex Pepe, Anue president and CEO answer key questions. Mark discusses the challenges, and Alex describes the role of the network monitoring switch in achieving data center goals.

Alex responds to Mark’s thoughts on the modern data center and makes observations around the major barrier that make a network monitoring switch essential:

 

These barriers lead to gaps in monitoring since not all tools can be connected when and where they are needed, or tools may be overwhelmed, which leads to lost critical data. Plus, improperly configured tools do not capture needed network traffic.

The Anue Solution

Anue’s network monitoring switch, the Anue Net Tool Optimizer™ (NTO), solves many network monitoring issues. It allows complete connectivity for a wide range of monitoring tools without the limitations of  TAP and SPAN, ports allowing connections to any and all of the needed network monitoring tools.

Additionally, with features like packet filtering technology, packet de-duplication, and packet slicing, the NTO sends only the data that each monitoring tool needs – preserving tool bandwidth and storage space. Now a 1G tool can be connected to a 10G network port without dropping packets and exceeding storage space.

The NTO also has a unique drag-and-drop control panel that makes connecting monitoring tools fast and easy. Network engineers can focus on network monitoring instead of configuring tools.

With effective network monitoring, data centers can enhance traffic flow efficiency for better bandwidth utilization, and they can spot and correct potential network problems before they lead to a failure. Plus better comprehensive network data and metrics is the first step in continually improving network performance. Proper monitoring also enhances security since alerts are quickly created for suspected breaches and network traffic can be diverted to the right tool for monitoring and inspection.

While meeting the modern data center challenges will take a multi-faceted approach, incorporating the NTO into the data center strategy is essential in working smarter to meet these ever increasing demands.

Please check out the video!