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Optimising the cloud with network intelligence

CK Lam, Director of Data Center Fabric and Virtualization for Asia Pacific, Brocade | Aug. 31, 2015
A technology based on the concepts and capabilities of deep packet inspection, packet capture and business intelligence, network intelligence is increasingly being used for bandwidth management, traffic shaping, and a whole lot more.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

CK Lam, Brocade
Photo: CK Lam

The rise of multimedia and the growing use of real-time applications — including voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video, desktop sharing and live webcasts — have placed heavy demands on network bandwidth and performance. The capability of the network to respond to changes in traffic patterns or congestion is automatically becoming more important for organisations to stay competitive.

That's because application delivery and workload hosting rely heavily on the network. Which is why, in the Brocade Global CIO Survey 2015, 60 percent of CIOs mentioned network performance as a key challenge for cloud services.

Achieving visibility, control and automation through network intelligence
The world of IT has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, but the underlying networks and the way data centres are constructed have not changed with it. IT professionals are still grappling with basic questions like: "Do I have enough bandwidth/capacity in my network?" or "Can my network automatically redirect traffic when there is congestion?" While there have been some solutions to address those challenges, none has been satisfactory.

CIOs today need to have greater understanding on what happens on a network. But network intelligence is more than just visibility and control. It has to include automation. This was promised in the past but most offerings were vendor-centric, complex, limited in functionality and expensive to deploy.

With the onset of Software-Defined Networking (SDN), it is now possible to realise true automation. SDN applications that work with an OpenDaylight-compliant controller can enable intelligent flow management and increased network agility on an open SDN architecture, for real-time network visibility and policy enforcement.

New services can be introduced with increased speed and value-added Service Level Agreements (SLAs), while open SDN architecture accommodates low risk, open and modular solutions.

SDN-based policy detection and management enables informed decisions to be made, based on real-time proactive network visibility. It also allows network managers to mitigate network flood attacks, throttle bandwidth-intensive workloads, reprioritise rogue traffic, and redirect suspicious activity for further analysis.

Automated flow management
Automated flow management, should be scalable and capable of supporting multiple aggregated 200 GB flows simultaneously, enabling data centres to handle large volumes of traffic flows. It should also be user-friendly, with an interactive web-based GUI for event logging and traffic statistics. And it should offer a range of flexible options to respond to traffic changes, and be able to remark, redirect, rate-limit, or even drop traffic flows. This ultimately adds more value and enables additional new SLAs, while supporting new services faster with bandwidth scheduling and flow-based traffic mirroring services.


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