Major League Baseball makes a run at network visibility

Legacy network-monitoring tools weren't cutting it for MLB with its demanding lineup of video, gaming, and AI workloads across its data centers, ballparks, and the cloud.

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Major League Baseball is taking network visibility to the next level.

“There were no modern network-management systems in place before I came in. It was all artisanally handcrafted configurations,” says Jeremy Schulman, who joined MLB two years ago as principal network automation software engineer.

Legacy SNMP-based monitoring products and discrete management tools from network vendors allowed MLB to collect data from switches and routers, for example, and track metrics such as bandwidth usage. But the patchworked tools were siloed and didn’t provide comprehensive visibility.

“At our ballparks, we could see the bandwidth utilization, from a traffic-flow perspective, on our circuits. That gives us a very high-level view of how much data is being transmitted between the ballpark and our data centers. It doesn’t give us insight into the users of the traffic—how much bandwidth is being used by, say, the video cameras, versus how much traffic is VoIP phones or other aspects of the ballpark infrastructure,” Schulman says.

To gain greater visibility into its networks, MLB rolled out Kentik’s network-flow analytics platform, which is designed to unify diverse streams of monitoring data across clouds, data centers, edge, SaaS, and the WAN. It supports a broad range of telemetry formats, which is critical for MLB with its multivendor network environment that includes gear from Cisco, Arista and Extreme Networks.

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