Seek unification over the SPOG

There are a few marketing trends that annoy me. One in particular is the Single Pane of Glass. This is a notion that an administrator or NOC team can look at everything from a window. What has ended up happening is that each vendor has their own Single Pane of Glass. This results in people having entire Windows to manage their environment. (Boom! See what I did there.) I think this misguided marketing term has an element of truth. If you distill it down what is trying to be achieved is Unification of management.

If you take a look at an example of vSphere Web Client you have an interface that allows administration of your Storage, Compute and Network elements. The same theme and hierarchy that is presented in the vSphere Web Client is applied to supplementary tools like Log Insight, vRealise Automation and Operations Management. Firstly there is a stylistic unification that ties it all together. The interface, placement and knobs are consistent. This allows a familiarity to the system. It means that there will be consistency to similar tasks. The flow, the inputs and outputs and most importantly, the end result will require an administrator to focus on the technology and not where buttons hide.

Troubleshooting approaches differ for many people as well. Based on the information received in a trouble ticket, information being sought after for a report, or information used in a new design, there are many ways to find and use this. Log Management systems can highlight statistics and trends and pickup errors. This might be a first point of call for a help desk or NOC person but maybe not an architect. If logs referencing a domain name or virtual machine were linked into their asset then the approachability widens. An architect may look at a visualisation display of network topologies and application topologies and see how that will affect integration and designs. If he requires a drill down, a unified system will allow him to reach log management or individual device details where permission allow.

The ease of access to information where allowed will shape the ability to use a product. A product that can stand alone but could also be tightly integrated is something that needs to be standard these days. Modular is good. Closed eco-systems are dead. They breed single-use troubleshooting that is applicable to one vertical. Wide-reaching troubleshooting skills are bred through unified far-reaching visualisation and troubleshooting tools. Whether it is Observium that allows drilling down on devices, Cisco Security Mananger allowing numerous information displays across many ASA devices, or LogInsight drawing logs from Physical and Virtual application topologies, a unified interface with open data access drastically simplifies troubleshooting and management operations. Demand it.

Spirent Avalanche Next

Spirent provides a focus on network and application testing software. Their traditional markets focused on cloud providers, hardware vendors, and traditional service providers. Recently Spirent has made plays into the Enterprise market with devices such as AXON for enterprise hardware, application, and solution testing. The focus for Spirent at NFD6 was the launch of the Spirent Avalanche NEXT.

The presentation opened up with the Global PR Manager , Sailaja Tennati welcoming us and outlining the session. The session looked to focus a little on Spirent for those who were unaware of their position and market focus and then proceeded onto the product launch of the Avalanche NEXT.

As the spiritual successor to the Avalanche, Spirent’s Avalanche NEXT made its debut at NFD6. Avalanche Next, a platform designed to test the performance, scalability and security of application-aware network infrastructures by generating authentic traffic and attacks.

Avalanche Next combines Avalanche’s performance testing with Spirent Studio’s threat and application emulation features. With thousands of test profiles and multiple engines this lets enterprises deliver repeatable and deterministic application testing. The platform provides multi-10Gb p/s testing with authentic payloads based on actual application transactions and usage for realistic security, load and functional testing, and can evaluate the impact of security policies on application performance with intermixed attacks, as well as re-create production-level mixes of application traffic and test the effectiveness of application quality-of-service (QoS) policies.

The solution boasts more than 7 million connections per second, which can re-create seasonal, weekly or special event user spike scenarios to verify how the device or network will react. There is also integrated protocol fuzzing finds unknown or Zero Day vulnerabilities before they happen. This can be used on security systems so they can be benchmarked and identified.

Also included is the ability to verify the capacity of the network device to detect and mitigate thousands of known attacks, test the resiliency of network devices and deployed protocols by verifying their ability to deal with millions of unexpected and malicious inputs, and test device capabilities to inspect traffic for malware, infected hosts, unwanted URLs and spam and take appropriate action.

The user interface built on HTML5 allows administrators to access the Avalanche NEXT on any device. The simple interface allows the administrator to be able to focus on generating tests, delivering results and distributing reports that provide immediate validation. Built around the usage of popular music players the interface is familiar and lends itself to the core functions.

Real time information is output into the browser highlighting a myriad of statistics. Packet loss, latency, application waterfalls, connection types, application types – understanding how your application works and seeing how it is performing will allow development of deterministic Service Level Agreements. With this information the generation of reports is very easy. There is the ability to generate scorecard summary reports that give a letter rating to the success of the test. This is complimented by detailed reports that give the far more insight into the real time happenings.

Once again Spirent has made testing sexy! I applaud Spirent for the continuing success in this field and look forward to coming across more of their equipment in the future.

Disclaimer: I attended Networking Field Day 6 as a delegate, but was not compensated to attend. I am free to write (or not write) about any of the presentations as I see fit without fear of censorship by the vendor or Tech Field Day. My general disclaimer is here