Q&A: Ixia Talks About Network Visibility
November 29, 2013
Share this

In APMdigest's exclusive interview, Scott Register, Senior Director of Product Management at Ixia, talks about network visibility and its relation to APM.

APM: How do you define network visibility?

SR: Complete network visibility is a state of operation in which all application and network monitoring tools can access exactly the data they need from multiple network segments and have a complete view of the network traffic.

Although it sounds simple, it's becoming more challenging to gain this visibility just as it's becoming more crucial to do so. Networks are expanding in size, speed and complexity to deliver applications and services that are becoming increasingly business-critical. Just getting the right data to the right tool can be a monumental task, and tools can easily be overwhelmed by traffic. Often, there aren't even enough data access points for all the monitoring tools and IT teams that need them.

Network visibility is enabled by a class of technology called network monitoring switches, also known as network packet brokers. These products sit in between the network and the monitoring tool suite to deliver all required traffic from anywhere in the network to the tool, allowing 100 percent of the data to be monitored and analyzed. They also perform other functions, such as aggregating, filtering, mirroring and otherwise optimizing traffic before it is sent to analysis tools.

APM: What role does network visibility play in APM?

SR: APM in particular requires a complete end-to-end perspective. Identifying and understanding where and how problems are occurring – and catching them before users do – are key to APM. Problems can occur anywhere along the application delivery path, often in isolation. As networks grow in complexity and applications are increasingly remotely or virtually hosted, a fragmented view of the environment makes it exponentially more difficult to guarantee application delivery to meet service level agreements.

APM: What are the biggest network visibility challenges?

SR: Visibility traditionally was considered an issue for large data center networks, such as those operated by a service provider. However, today enterprises of all sizes are operating mission-critical networks that are faster, more complex and more dynamic, with more traffic. In the world of data center network and application management, the only sure things are more data, more network traffic, and more challenges in protecting the business.

Cisco's latest Global Cloud Index shows that 76 percent of network traffic today never even leaves the data center. According to Cisco, this high degree of intra-data center traffic can be attributed to functional separation of application servers, storage and databases, which generates replication, backup and read/write traffic traversing the data center. Contrast this with an older, simpler model where monitoring was focused on “the Internet connection” or at least a few identifiable choke points that all traffic went through, and you can see how the issue of visibility is growing in every network.

On a macro level, this loss of visibility is being driven by a convergence of factors: exploding mobile growth, virtualization, the adoption of 10/40/100GE networks, cloud, Big Data, and an increase in sophisticated security threats.

Consider this one statistic: IDC reports that the amount of data in the world will grow 50-fold from the beginning of 2010 to the end of 2020 - to more than 40,000 exabytes. It's highly unlikely that our network infrastructures will grow at the same rate, creating the need to develop new strategies for managing, analyzing and optimizing all this data traffic.

APM: Is visibility in virtualized environments also a big challenge?

SR: Yes. Last year, the number of applications running in virtual environments passed the 50 percent mark, according to a report from market research firm Aberdeen Group Inc. Virtualization allows significant increases in efficiency, so it's no surprise that adoption is growing at a rapid clip.

However, these advances are not without a powerful downside. The premise on which virtualization is based – multiple virtual machines (VMs) handling traffic on a single server – means a loss of traffic visibility. This becomes problematic when trying to trace a packet or to analyze packet flow at any given time. We call this inability to see what's happening in the virtual data center the “Virtual Blind Spot.”

APM: What is the solution?

SR: Certain virtualized analysis tools have hit the market, but these have problems. Virtualized environments are self-contained, and by nature, any tools developed for virtualized environments focus exclusively on the virtual. This creates a conundrum when attempting to troubleshoot or monitor the “whole story” which includes the virtual plus the physical network. How can you troubleshoot a problem when you only see part of the situation? When an application's network operations are spread across both physical and virtual links, it is impossible to diagnose or understand that application's performance without seamless integration of physical and virtual network monitoring.

To solve this challenge, solutions utilizing more capable network monitoring switches can obtain traffic from both the physical and virtual infrastructure, and optimize and broadcast it to the full suite of monitoring tools for a complete picture.

APM: How does Ixia help customers gain network visibility?

SR: At Ixia, we say our mission is to create amazing products so our customers can connect the world. Many people know our name in the context of network testing and validation, and this is still a major focus for our company. Leveraging that expertise, we also offer a leading class of solutions to enable customers to gain visibility into network applications and services to accelerate troubleshooting and enhance monitoring performance. These range from 100 Gb Ethernet-capable, carrier-class network monitoring switches to our newest family of products, the Ixia Net Tool Optimizer 2112/2113. These network monitoring switches are designed for smaller network deployments, enabling enterprise class network monitoring in a cost-effective and easily deployed appliance.

ABOUT Scott Register

Scott Register has more than 15 years of experience leading product management operations for global technology companies. Register is currently the Sr. Director of Product Management for Network Visibility Solutions at Ixia, after leading product management at BreakingPoint Systems prior to its acquisition by Ixia. Scott has previously led product lines for Blue Coat, Permeo, and Check Point Software. Register has also served as a member of the research faculty at a major university. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Related Links:

www.ixiacom.com

Ixia Introduces New Family of Net Tool Optimizer Products

Net Optics to be Acquired by Ixia

Cisco's Global Cloud Index

Share this

The Latest

April 21, 2017

In the spirit of Earth Day, which is Saturday, April 22, we recently asked IT professionals for the tips and tricks they're using to help keep their data centers as green as possible. Here are a few ideas inspired by the responses we got ...

April 20, 2017

Almost One-Third (28 percent) of IT workers surveyed fear that cloud adoption is putting their job at risk, according to a survey conducted by ScienceLogic ...

April 19, 2017

A majority of senior IT leaders and decision-making managers of large companies surveyed around the world indicate their organizations have yet to fully embrace the aspects of IT Transformation needed to remain competitive, according to a new study conducted by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) ...

April 18, 2017

The move to cloud-based solutions like Office 365, Google Apps and others is one of the biggest fundamental changes IT professionals will undertake in the history of computing. The cost savings and productivity enhancements available to organizations are huge. But these savings and benefits can't be reaped without careful planning, network assessment, change management and continuous monitoring. Read on for things that you shouldn't do with your network in preparation for a move to one of these cloud providers ...

April 17, 2017

One of the most ubiquitous words in the development and DevOps vocabularies is "Agile." It is that shining, valued, and sometimes elusive goal that all enterprises strive for. But how do you get there? How does your organization become truly Agile? With these questions in mind, DEVOPSdigest asked experts across the industry — including analysts, consultants and vendors — for their opinions on the best way for a development or DevOps team to become more Agile ...

April 12, 2017

Is composable infrastructure the right choice for your IT environment? The following are 5 key questions that can help you begin to explore the capabilities of composable infrastructure and its applicability within your own IT environment ...

April 11, 2017

What is composable infrastructure, and is it the right choice for your IT environment? That's the question on many CIOs' minds today as they work to position their organizations as "digitally driven," delivering better, deeper, faster user experiences and a more agile response to change in whatever vertical market you do business in today ...

April 10, 2017

As companies adopt new hardware and applications, their networks grow larger and become harder to manage. For network engineers and administrators, the continued emergence of integrated technology has forced them to reconfigure and manage networks in a more dynamic way ...

April 07, 2017

The complexity of data in motion is growing and risks undermining the success of the modern data-driven enterprise. A recent survey of data engineers and architects, conducted by StreamSets, sought to bring some perspective to the new reality in the enterprise, leading to some interesting insights about the enterprise data landscape ...

April 06, 2017

The biggest factor driving happiness is the quality of relationships IT professionals have with their coworkers, including users, peers, and managers, according to the 2017 IT Job Satisfaction report from Spiceworks ...