Prevent Network Outages and Gray Failures with Intent-Based Analytics

Networks
Prevent Network Outages and Gray Failures with Intent-Based Analytics
Apstra Blog
Prevent Network Outages and Gray Failures with Intent-Based Analytics

We recently released version 2.1 of our AOS network application, and it includes a new set of features called Intent-Based Analytics. IBA is included in AOS and can be used by all customers immediately. These analytic capabilities have been part of AOS since the first release, but we are now exposing these features for customers to leverage. You can see a demo of IBA features in our on-demand webinar “Intent-Based Analytics: Prevent Network Outages and Gray Failures“.

iba_1.pngYou may have heard recent announcements about IBA or assurance functionality from a large vendor, and we’re proud of the fact that our vision is being validated by the largest names in the industry. Unlike other solutions, our platform is multi-vendor and hardware independent, so IBA works across all systems without the operator needing to know the differences between the specific syntax of commands, output, or operating guidelines. Everything is normalized so you can simply interact with the data in a meaningful and visual manner. IBA is NOT a legacy network management system, it is a totally new way of operating your network.

This is where we think today’s network experts will be able to apply their custom troubleshooting and best practices and maximize their value to their organization. We’re providing several complex checks to get customers up and running with IBA immediately.

IBA allows operators to logically link the intent of the system to the desired operating parameters. It does this in a very generic and vendor-agnostic fashion, so the IBA will automatically update itself when changes occur. If we define some normal behavior for the spine switches, every time we add a spine the system should know how to monitor it and what the addition of that device means to the rest of the network.

We can also create baselines that support statistical analysis, with the ability to watermark the normal behavior of the system. Any change to the design or policy of the system should update the analytics and expectations for the desired running state.

IBA uses mathematical processors to take data and transform it into something understandable by a human. Network engineers already know how to do this, in fact they’re doing most of this analysis in their heads.

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But what is groundbreaking about IBA is that these processors can be assembled into larger units, called probes. Probes can connect multiple processors in many different ways. This is exactly how an engineer thinks through the troubleshooting process. At my desk, I might take one bit of data from the screen on the left, and compare it to something on the screen on the right. If these two sources tell me something interesting, perhaps I will open a new application to gather more data. Sometimes I call my peer in the NOC to see if they are seeing something related on their instruments. These pieces are all disconnected, and are assembled in the mind of the engineer only when alerted that there is an issue.

IBA has all of the tools to collect and analyze these disparate bits of data, and you can put them into a probe so the condition we are looking for is always being checked. Perhaps we want to know if our MLAG peers are receiving an unbalanced amount of traffic from a host. Wouldn’t it be great if we could check this every five minutes on every single MLAG pair? Better yet, if we add more MLAG pairs in the future, they should automatically be added to these system checks.

intent-based_analytics_diagram_3.png

So IBA is a toolset you can use to put your expertise directly into the system and not have to perform these steps manually. You can do virtually sort of analysis, you can even connect sources of data that might have previously been unrelated.

IBA helps to identify issues in your network but also cuts down on false positives. You can set baselines, perform statistical analysis, and create unions of conditions. It is totally customizable for your business needs and you can create these system checks in minutes rather than months.

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IBA is a next generation technology. Is it not a traditional Network Management System (NMS). It gives you familiar tools to quickly put your mental model into the system and then gradually build more connections to create advanced troubleshooting and reactive elements.

This first release of IBA contains everything needed to get up and running, and we’re providing complex probes as examples in our Github repo.

For more information on IBA or AOS, please feel free to contact us directly.

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