Route analytics: Three users’ perspectives

* Route analytics at work

Earlier this year, we wrote a newsletter about route analytics. In that, we defined the goal of route analytics as being to provide visibility, analysis and diagnosis of the issues that occur at the routing layer. Route analytics has typically been regarded as a niche technology. However, we have recently been talking to both end users and vendors and those conversations have convinced us that route analytics is poised to cross the chasm and become a mainstream technology for IT organizations that have complex meshed networks that support business critical applications.

To demonstrate its potential, today, we’ll summarize some of the conversations we’ve had with a number of IT professionals on the value of route analytics. The next newsletter will summarize conversations with route analytics suppliers. More information on this topic can be found here.

One of the IT professionals who we talked with about route analytics works for a large government organization. He is a team leader for network engineering and will be referred to in this newsletter as The Team Leader. As a result of deploying applications such as VoIP, The Team Leader has a number of projects in place the goal of which is to increase the resiliency of the network. A key component of the organization’s overall resiliency strategy is to rely on OSPF (Open Shortest Path First) to identify alternative paths through the network. However, as The Team Leader stated: “A single misconfiguration on a backbone router causes havoc.” He pointed out that before the organization implemented route analytics it typically didn’t know that there was a routing problem until a user complained. Once it determined that there was a problem, the traditional approach to troubleshooting OSPF required analysis of each individual component of the network and that route analytics allow the organization to identify and resolve problems before they impact users.

We also talked to a network engineer for a large utility who will be referred to in this newsletter as The Network Engineer. Like The Team Leader, The Network Engineer stated that increasing the availability of the network was a key goal of his organization. Before deploying route analytics, his organization responded to a routing problem by “digging really deep and going device to device”. The Network Engineer stated that the value of route analytics is that it reduces the amount of time it takes to resolve a problem with the routing infrastructure.

The other IT professionals that we talked to reflected the views of The Team Leader and The Network Engineer. In particular, each IT professional that we talked to stated that issues at the routing layer were not as common as issues such as a network outage or a mis-configuration. However, there was unanimous agreement that issues at the routing layer have a very significant impact and that these issues are difficult to troubleshoot without route analytics.

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