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Arista Launches Real-Time Telemetry for Cloud Networks

Mitch Wagner
8/23/2016
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Arista on Tuesday introduced new telemetry technology designed to allow operators to collect diagnostic information about their networks in real time, to meet the resiliency demands of the cloud era.

"It's about how you get better visibility into what the network is thinking and doing," Jeff Raymond, Arista Networks Inc. VP US products and services, tells Light Reading.

Telemetry takes advantage of capabilities built into Arista's EOS (Extensible Operating System) network operating system. SysDB, a feature of EOS, provides a database for network states on individual devices. NetDB aggregates SysDB data to a network point to monitor the whole network. Using the new telemetry capabilities, streams of data from devices capture state changes and store that data in an enhanced version of Arista's CloudVision platform, available in the fourth quarter, for network automation and orchestration, Raymond says.

Real-time telemetry presents an alternative to the traditional way of getting data out of the network by polling every 10-15 minutes on average. That's the approach used by the Simple Network Management Protocol, which collects a subset of data rather than the full set available to switches, Raymond says. The SNMP standard is ancient, developed in 1989. "When we're talking about today's cloud networking environments, they have the express desire to turn off SNMP. It's inefficient. It's not giving them what they need."

Cloud operators want to see every change of state instantaneously. "It's a tall order, but it's not that different from what they're doing in other parts of the IT operation," Raymond said. "Cloud and application providers are already capturing every click from the end user, storing it, and running analytics. They're taking the same principle and applying it to the network."

Complete real-time analytics allow operators to review history to find the cause of network faults, as well as capture subsecond traffic microbursts that might be indicative of network problems, and which a poll operating every 10-15 minutes would likely miss, Raymond said.

The telemetry and analytics capabilities are built using standard RESTful APIs and an OpenConfig based infrastructure, to enable connectivity to partner solutions, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise , SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP), Veriflow and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), as well as customer-specific infrastructure.

Arista joins a field of companies providing streaming network analytics, including Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) with its JunOS operating system, as well as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

Cisco recently announced Tetration, a platform to track "every packet, every flow, every speed" on data center networks. Like the Arista technology, it captures all the information on the network in real-time. (See Cisco Launches Data Center Analytics for Obsessives.)

And VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) acquired Arkin in June to automate and manage NSX networks. (See VMware Grabs Arkin for Data Center Automation.)


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Several startups are tackling the problem of automating network management in real time. These include Apstra , funded by Arista co-founder David Cheriton, which in June launched a network operating system designed to manage data center networks comprising hardware from multiple vendors, including Arista, Cisco, Juniper and more. (See Arista Co-Founder Backs Network Automation Startup.)

Kentik Technologies this month said it received a $23 million third round of funding, for a total $38.2 million, for network traffic intelligence provided as a cloud service. (See Kentik Scores $23M in Funding for Cloud Network Analytics.)

It's all part of a trend that's been building for most of this decade toward New IP networks, to give networks the same flexibility and automation capabilities already available to cloud compute and storage. Other facets of this trend include software-defined networking (SDN) -- which has pretty much become so mainstream that it isn't discussed anymore -- and network functions virtualization (NFV).

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— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

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