An interesting thing happened last week that drove home the importance of network telemetry.
My wife saw a calendar invite from Arista where they wanted to pre-brief me on their upcoming telemetry launch. In addition to running ZK Research with me by doing most of the back office work, she is also a cardiac nurse and was interested in the content of the briefing because telemetry is a critical element of her job. In her field, cardiac telemetry is used to constantly monitor the heart and can quickly alert the nurse in real time if something bad is going on. If there’s any problem at all, like arrhythmia, they can use the data to take action and save the patient.
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In the networking space, telemetry information has been growing in popularity for the same reason. Network telemetry constantly monitors the network and can immediately alert the engineer if there is an issue.
In the cardiac space, if there’s any kind of delay at all, the notification can come too late putting the patient at risk. In the network industry, delays in notification can lead to critical business outages or security breaches. This is the primary reason why legacy solutions built on polling technology are ineffective. Polling, by definition, happens at periodic times and can miss events that happen between polls. Similarly, a heart monitor that captures information every minute instead of every heartbeat is likely to miss many issues.
Arista’s expanded network telemetry solution
This week, Arista Networks announced an expansion to its network telemetry solution. The heart (pun intended) of the company’s EOS operating system is something called NetDB, which continually captures and stores real-time state information without having to use those cardiac stickers that people have to use. Also, cardiac telemetry requires the patient wear a box that collects the data. Arista’s solution is much easier, as it stores all network telemetry data from all devices in a single database. The company streams the information from this database and includes information such as CPU load, system logs, buffer utilization, MAC tables, fan speed and a number of other metrics.
Once the data is collected, it’s sent to an analytics engine that filters the data, correlates it and looks for insights. The last piece of the puzzle is the presentation of the data. This can be done through Arista’s CloudVision visualization dashboard or through APIs accessed via REST, Websocket or gRPC. The APIs let developers access historical information and subscribe to the live streaming data, and they are key to the company building a large ecosystem of partners that can leverage the solution.
Customers that deploy the solution will have a real-time, continuous view of the state change of every device in the network. This granularity of the data is a significant improvement over legacy polling solutions. The information can be used for a number of use cases, such as real-time monitoring and forensic troubleshooting. The data can also be used for security purposes.
Despite Arista’s rapid ascension in networking, the company has not had a role in the fast growing security market. As I pointed out in a post I wrote about Cisco’s cybersecurity efforts, security is in transition, and market leadership requires data, visibility and insight, which is exactly what Arista Telemetry provides.
Arista network telemetry partners
As part of the launch, Arista announced four telemetry ecosystem partners: HP Enterprise IT Operations Manager, VMWare vRealize LogInsight, SAP Operations Analytics and Veriflow. Each of those products has relied on polling data and will see significant improvement in both granularity and scale with the streamed telemetry data.
Given the importance of network data in an increasingly digital world, I would expect to see Arista quickly add more ecosystem partners, as well as software vendors.
Telemetry has always been an area of strength of Arista’s, as the company used the data for features such as VM tracer and container tracer. The company has extended the value of the data to areas such as real time visibility, application performance and security.
The EOS NetDB Streaming is available to customers now, and CloudVision Telemetry will be available in Q4 of this calendar year. Ecosystem partners will be released on a case-by-case basis.