Cisco Launches Data Center Analytics for Obsessives

Mitch Wagner
6/15/2016

Cisco introduced software designed to warm the hearts of obsessive-compulsive data center operators, tracking "every packet, every flow, every speed," the company said in an announcement Wednesday.

It won't tell you where you left your phone, though. You're on your own for that.

Cisco Tetration Analytics is designed to solve the problem of getting visibility inside the data center. Existing tools monitor the edges of the data center, but not the interior, Yogesh Kaushik, senior director, product management for Cisco, tells Light Reading. The cloud and DevOps exacerbate the problem, as network operators struggle to determine which applications should go to the cloud and how policies should apply to the cloud.

And DevOps makes the problems even worse, with containers popping up and disappearing rapidly, and applications moving around frequently.

"The tools that in the past were used to understand what was in the data center and how it works don't work anymore. They fail quickly," Kaushik says.

Cisco's solution is designed to watch everything that happens in the data center, rather than sampling traffic, and use unsupervised machine learning algorithms to keep track. "Instead of throwing people at the problem, let machines solve the problem," Kaushik says.

Tetration Analytics "gathers telemetry from hardware and software sensors, then analyzes the information using advanced machine learning techniques," the company said in a statement.

Tetration looks at policy compliance, application forensics and security whitelists. With continuous monitoring, analytics,and reporting, data center operators get "deep understanding of the data center" for greater reliability, security and migrating applications to SDN and the cloud, Cisco says.

Cisco Tetration Analytics helps organizations understand which applications are dependent on each other in the data center and cloud. Network operators can validate the effects of policy changes before they're implemented; search billions of flows in less than a second; and continuously monitor application behavior for deviations in communications patterns.

Tetration Analytics is designed to unify data center management now handled by multiple tools for different jobs.

The technology uses a combination of software and hardware sensors to track activity in the data center, on virtual machines and bare metal servers. The first version supports Linux and Windows server hosts, with hardware sensors embedded in the ASICs of Cisco Nexus 9200-X and 9300-EX switches. A single appliance will monitor up to 1 million unique flows per second. Both software and hardware sensors communicate informaiton in real time to the Tetration Analytics Platform hardware appliance, which can run in any data center with any servers and switches.

The Tetration appliance is "one-touch," with pre-wired servers and switches and pre-installed software. The first rack-mounted, on-premises appliance will be available next month. Cisco will also provide services to support the technology.

Using open APIs, Cisco's goal is to build a broad partner ecosystem. "The goal is to think of this like Android or iOS, where you build a platform, a handful of applications and open it up to the community so they can build on it," Kaushik says.

Analytics is a big deal for Cisco. In a March reorganization of the company's top management, CEO ChucK Robbins singled out analytics as strategic to cloud-first hybrid IT environments. At that time, Cisco organized the company's data and analytics solutions to be headed up by Zorawar Biri Singh, CTO of cloud services and platforms, who also heads up the company's next-generation data center strategy. (See Cisco's Ahuja Quits as Robbins Revamps His Top Team.)

Also in March, Cisco rewrote its enterprise networking architecture with a focus on cloud, mobility and analytics. (See Cisco Rewrites Enterprise Networking DNA in 'Monumental Shift'.)

In November, Cisco acquired ParStream to boost Internet of Things analytics. (See Cisco Boosts Analytics, Security With Acquisitions.)


Want to know more about the cloud? Visit Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.


Cisco isn't alone seeing analytics as strategic. This week, VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) bought Arbor, which specializes in automating network flows inside the data center for NSX networks. VMware focused on automation rather than analytics, but the technologies achieve similar ends. They differ significantly in that Arbor is focused on VMware networks while Cisco is a multivendor product, but even there they're not that far apart, as VMware supports multivendor hardware. (See VMware Grabs Arkin for Data Center Automation.)

And Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) launched its Network Visibility analytics line in October. (See Brocade Debuts Analytics Tools for the New IP.

To learn more about how big data analytics can help run and monitor networks, attend Light Reading's Upskill U classes on the subject. (See Go Beyond the Basics of Big Data Analytics With Upskill U.)

As for your phone: Check your pocket again. It was there all along.

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

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danielcawrey
danielcawrey
6/16/2016 | 4:47:17 PM
Important
Analytics is becoming increasingly important. As networks become more complex, someone has to attempt to wrangle some of the data generated to create operational efficiency. This is the purpose of some of these things like data center analytics. I'm sure Cisco will have its salespeople sell a ton of these services packages. 
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