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Analysis, Insight & Control – Three Keys to Network Optimization

“Set-it-and-forget-it.”  We hear this phrase all the time. In consumer land, the phrase is used extensively to promote product simplicity and reliability. But ask yourself, “is there anything in the world of IT that is truly set-it-and-forget-it?” With all of the complexity, variables, and churn inherent in IT infrastructure, how can you simply put your infrastructure on autopilot?  It’s like saying you have a set-it-and-forget-it investment strategy —  a great goal, but let’s be realistic, there’s always room for optimization (improvement)!

Plexxi prides itself in its ability to tightly integrate with applications to become aware of the application’s behavior, its workloads, and its ecosystem. This awareness is the foundation of Plexxi’s ability to automate network operations based on application and infrastructure events, like the creation or movement of a VM or the deployment of a complex application. As automatic as Plexxi makes many network operations, having a view of the network based on data from a variety of sources within the infrastructure, analyzing that collected data, and gaining a real-time view of network status is critical to maintaining optimum operational performance and efficiency. So, with Plexxi, you can set it and forget it, but you’d sleep better at night if you knew someone (or something) was watching things for you.

Decision Lab 330w, 414w, 474w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Today, we announced a strategic partnership with Decision Lab, a leader in big data analytics and data visualization, to work with us on integrating real-time network analytics into the Plexxi product set. Our goal is to provide our customers with a set of data collection, analysis, and visualization tools that deliver valuable insights into the Plexxi network configuration, allowing administrators to optimize and easily troubleshoot their Plexxi network operations.

This is a natural integration of Decision Lab value-add services that Plexxi can provide with its programmable API’s and rich set of network statistics. By integrating Decision Lab’s Analytics, Plexxi HCN provides searchable dashboards and reports to isolate interesting data and highlight potential problems within the Plexxi HCN fabric.  These services also include custom alerting and machine learning-based anomaly detection and can proactively monitor any size network infrastructure.

With most traditional networking solutions, issues are generally identified in the network when end users report problems with their applications. Monitoring is done with third party tools that require labor-intensive integration with the environment and have limited reach. For example, traditional troubleshooting has been difficult and usually starts with the following comments: “I can’t reach x” or “We’re seeing increased latency on application y.”  Typically, the network team (having limited information) begins troubleshooting by researching logs, pulling switch statistics, and performing an overall evaluation of the entire IT environment. This can be a very expensive and inefficient process.

Decision Lab’s Analytics takes the painstaking integration and operational complexity out of monitoring the network fabric, offering much faster time-to-value and significantly more efficient analysis. For example, DL Analytics maintains fabric logs/sflow traffic statistics and can analyze them in real time. It also provides real-time analysis of workload traffic patterns to identify hot spots and changes in fabric usage.

These tools enable Plexxi administrators to identify issues and trends and respond before being noticed by the end user/application. The integrated tools provide a real-time monitoring/alerting capability that is flexible enough to create a JIRA ticket, send email/pager notifications, or integrate with any customer application with a published API.

So, set-it-and-forget may be a great goal in terms of ease-of-use and reliability, but think about it this way. Your financial advisor can put you into a portfolio of set-it-and-forget-it-investments, but don’t you want the ability to tweak your portfolio based on changes you observe in the market, your personal situation, and emerging opportunities?  Same goes for your IT infrastructure. As it evolves, you need real-time visibility to ensure your network is optimized as it adapts to changes in your IT environment.  By optimizing, you’re not leaving money on the table, and that’s a good thing.

The post Analysis, Insight & Control – Three Keys to Network Optimization appeared first on Plexxi.

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More Stories By Mat Mathews

Visionary solutions are built by visionary leaders. Plexxi co-founder and Vice President of Product Management Mat Mathews has spent 20 years in the networking industry observing, experimenting and ultimately honing his technology vision. The resulting product — a combination of traditional networking, software-defined networking and photonic switching — represents the best of Mat's career experiences. Prior to Plexxi, Mat held VP of Product Management roles at Arbor Networks and Crossbeam Systems. Mat began his career as a software engineer for Wellfleet Communications, building high speed Frame Relay Switches for the carrier market. Mat holds a Bachelors of Science in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.