Flying blind with zero visibility in your network?

Joerg Bonarius Senior Manager, Product Marketing Published 4 Jan 2022

Service Providers (SP) cannot afford to fly blind when transferring data across their networks. As the pandemic has shown, digital agility is everything. And that trend will only continue. Cloud-based apps and as-a-service solutions enable more and more organizations to scale fast and adapt to sudden challenges, as well as opportunities.

blindfolded man

For SPs, Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) is where the attention is. In September, Verizon activated its private, on-premise mobile edge compute service with Microsoft Azure.  Earlier in 2021, Verizon expanded its 5G MEC offering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to target both a public edge for consumers and a private edge for enterprises.

5G edge computing is a catalyst for transformative opportunities across a wide range of industries. This force is reshaping telco cloud computing to enable centrally managed deployments of edge and multi-cloud environments from multiple vendors to unleash the potential of 5G.

Infinitely distributed organizations meet users wherever they are. The workplace must come to the user and services must come to the consumer. In the infinite enterprise, consumer-centric experience uses technology that revolves around the users’ needs. This needs to be delivered at scale, scaling services and technology to provide secure and reliable experiences everywhere for everyone.

As networking professionals, we have witnessed a profound evolution of network infrastructure moving into virtualized and cloud-native architectures such that new technologies are needed to operate and monitor those systems. In a fully containerized environment, applications are spun on and off at rapid speed and they run on a highly virtualized server infrastructure.

For better customer satisfaction and retention, service providers must get better visibility of their network traffic.  To correlate data from anywhere in a cloud-native world is a challenge with today’s networks. Service providers need to monitor and analyze traffic on a per-subscriber basis to identify new value-added services and billing models while assuring high levels of service and security. Visibility of network traffic, essentially identifying data per subscriber is mission-critical. Rising volumes in network traffic are overwhelming critical monitoring tools.

As we work with operators, MVNOs, and analytics providers, we are witnessing a staggering issue: they can no longer adequately monitor, correlate, and measure critical network and application communications events at the container level and across the infrastructure. Providing visibility in those types of environments is challenging, and we come across service providers that are trying to retrofit legacy monitoring solutions to accomplish only what a new cloud-native network visibility solution can do.

The expectation of greater and more flexible visibility into data on the network is driving distributed data visibility requirements. Service Providers need to have the value of a cloud-native experience with the reliability of carrier-grade platforms for their visibility and automation needs.

Modern cloud-native network visibility solutions are composable by nature and are designed to embrace rapid change at a large scale with built-in resiliency.

Service providers can compose or change the nature of their network services based on the use cases identified through Extreme’s visibility tools, management, and assurance platform, and with the ability to scale anywhere. Service Providers need to change faster than their customers.

Think about this scenario:  a customer using a network packet broker (NPB) application that can be instantiated on different virtual machines and identifies a change in traffic in several locations around the country.

Perhaps a new game has been released and they’re starting to see new bandwidth trends. Perhaps they need deeper visibility at those local PoPs.  Wouldn’t it be great if they could enable that NPB application at the edge on a smaller scale to get better data?  What if they need to shift their traffic to better address the bandwidth needs? Perhaps they want to do something more in-depth with their edge compute resources to understand how they can best isolate and redirect that traffic?  What if the game company wants to put servers or even containers closer to the user and the service provider can strike a deal to provide the best gaming experience in the industry? Use cases like this can move extremely fast. The faster the SP can see it coming and provide the best experience for customers, the more revenue they will generate.

A container-based, cloud-native approach enables network teams to push monitoring and analytics to the edge and maintain real-time visibility and intelligence across the explosion of access points and data that transits the user and control plane from the RAN to the core for 5G connectivity.

Such a solution integrates with Open APIs to automatically discover the cloud infrastructure, deploy virtual visibility nodes that collect and aggregate the acquired traffic at the network edge closer to the user, and apply intelligence prior to sending selected traffic to security and monitoring tools.

Granular network visibility enables quicker service creation and means more time to innovate the network design and the applications running on top of it. Capturing deep insights into network traffic, applications, and user experience across your entire network environment – enabling service providers to eliminate blind spots, increase efficiency, and get the right data to the right tools at the right time.

The Extreme 9920 is a distributed network visibility platform, built with cloud-native design principles and a composable data pipeline, to provide highly scalable traffic aggregation, packet filtering, replication, and advanced network packet processing for analytics tools to deliver data insights and provides the flexibility to adapt for future network enhancements, so Service Providers can quickly respond to new user demands and new 5G use cases.

This makes the Extreme 9920 suitable to be deployed in a central location for network data processing and analysis. It also leverages Extreme’s existing packet broker portfolio to create a hierarchical scale-out architecture to better align function, robustness, and value, and with the ability to scale out for the largest data center, cloud, or service provider environment. Combine this with visibility software based on a containerized architecture to provide an integrated management solution, greatly simplifying time to rollout.

Please find here more information on the Extreme Networks Cloud Native Visibility Solution. There is a dedicated Cloud-Native Visibility Solutions Page here. 

There is a great blog from Ed Doe from Intel, who wrote about pioneering our composable network solution, highlighting our partnership with Intel and underlining the fact that composability dynamically enables changes to the network processing parameters in response to new network demands 

Please check out our Intel – Extreme Networks webinar on the topic of composable networks for service providers – after a quick registration, the recording can be found here.

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