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You Don’t Need to be a Special Agent to Leverage Network Analytics

Steve Smith Director, Product Management Published 8 Nov 2017

Have you ever watched NCIS? In the show, the NCIS field team gathers data which is then deciphered by their forensic scientist and is used to solve the crime. NCIS is based on the premise of analytics. Analytics is the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. These patterns can be used to improve performance, evaluate risk, optimize automation, and even solve crimes! 

Analytics play a huge part in the digital network transformation. Network analytics are used to define, create, collect, verify, or transform digital data into reporting, research, analyses, recommendations, optimizations, predictions, and effective automation.  Similar to the NCIS team, the network gathers and analyzes data. The network then uses automation to improve the overall end user experience, based on the results.  

Extreme Networks understands the digital network transformation, so we have created reliable, open, high-performance network solutions that utilize network analytics to optimize business and technical outcomes. Extreme has recently introduced the SLX (formerly Brocade SLX) routing and switching platform. Similar to the NCIS team, the SLX platform provides unparalleled visibility, in this case, into the network. This capability allows the network to gather data that will help quickly identify problems, accelerate mean-time-to-resolution, and improve overall service levels. 

Unfortunately, gathering and understanding the data is only half the battle.  This would be like the NCIS agents knowing who did it, but not capturing the bad guy.  This is why the Extreme Networks’ SLX platform provides data to the Extreme Workflow Composer, allowing it to act on network intelligence with the agility that modern data centers demand. In NCIS terms, the Extreme Workflow Composer catches the bad guy.    

The research and education networking community can benefit from the SLX platform. For instance, one of the unique capabilities is the ability of SLX to support a virtual machine (VM) onboard.

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Why is this important? The SLX platform is designed to support PerfSONAR toolkit on its onboard VM. PerfSONAR, (which is similar to NCIS forensic scientist), provides a uniform interface that allows for the scheduling of measurements, storage of data in uniform formats, and scalable methods to retrieve data and generate visualizations. The PerfSONAR agent performs the measurements, gathers the data and sends it to the PerfSONAR centralized management system. This data is used as a trigger that allows the Extreme Workflow Composer to provide the appropriate action, fully automating the network. As a result, the case is solved from and NCIS perspective.  

Since the network sees everything, there isn’t a better place to gather analytics and run intelligent processes to ensure your environment is running efficiently. The SLX platform, with its ability to run virtual machines on board, allows you to have a cornucopia of software test tools at your fingertips when gathering analytics and troubleshooting your environment. Adding in the Extreme Workflow Composer provides the event driven automation that gathers analytics and based on this intelligence runs defined processes that resolve an issue. The combination of the Extreme Workflow Composer and the SLX platform enables you to be proactive instead of reactive to issues that may arise.  

If you think this sound too good to be true, come see how the SLX Insight Architecture with third party VM support allows you to troubleshoot and automate the network at Extreme Networks’s SC17 booth #519 demo, “Leveraging Visibility to Drive DevOps & Troubleshooting,” for yourself.

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