Blog: Contextual Analytics

By Erik Thoen |

128 Technology is rethinking routing by building in contextual analytics that help reshape the management and monitoring of IT infrastructure and networks. Over many years, incumbent network vendors have developed incremental solutions from Layer 1 upwards. For example, conventional network monitoring takes the form of purpose-built probes, taps, and switches distributed throughout a network to passively collect and forward packet data to a central location for analysis. Since this approach introduces redundant hardware, protocols like IPFIX were introduced to allow sophisticated switches and routers to provide data directly to collection points.

Far more disruptive changes are occurring as businesses realize that services and applications, not the lowest network layers, create the highest enterprise value. These business-critical applications operate across a variety of infrastructure, and new vendors have produced dramatic innovations for monitoring services. Enterprises have embraced products like Splunk, which gathers and analyzes log file contents, for monitoring, reporting, security analysis, and troubleshooting of services. New approaches in the category of Application Performance Monitoring (APM) have emerged, and even Cisco has taken notice, purchasing AppDynamics for $3.7 billion. Enterprises are starting to recognize that tying analytics to services is what really matters, and these customers are willing to displace incumbents.

At 128 Technology, we’re disrupting network monitoring and management with contextual analytics. In contrast to traditional vendor incrementalism, our approach is service-centric, session-stateful, and fully integrated.

Service-Centric

The 128 Technology Networking Platform (128T) is service-centric from the ground up because applications are what matter to enterprises. Our data model is explicitly based on network-wide attributes like services and tenants. Data collected at a router is immediately associated with model attributes, providing service- and tenant-based insight, and for network-wide visibility, further data reduction and analysis is simplified. With the traditional approach, these associations are only made at a centralized location, after collecting network-wide data, applying considerable data analytics, and waiting a period of time.

Session-Stateful

Since sessions are the method through which users interact with services, 128T is session-stateful and provides unique information on the routing of sessions to services. Sessions are unique, directional, two-way exchanges of information with state and provide tremendous insight into service performance. Traditional unidirectional flow analytics are comparable to listening to one side of a conversation, while the session-based analytics 128T generates are akin to hearing both sides of a conversation. The current and historical state of these sessions provides awareness of end-to-end performance. When the session and state information are associated to specific services via our data model, the full context is provided.

Fully Integrated

Contextual analytics provide tremendous insight, which is why 128T has integrated this visibility throughout the platform. Existing networks employ middleboxes to collect data, different platforms to analyze information, and discrete tools for monitoring and interpretation. By designing 128T with analytics in mind, separate collection, analysis, and monitoring platforms are eliminated.

128T has integrated session-state, service-centricity, and full visibility throughout the platform to provide tremendous insight locally. Contextual analytics create tangible benefits in troubleshooting, optimization, and security. The service- and session-visibility of the platform simplifies the management and rapid troubleshooting of problems across the network. Current and historical stateful data enables optimization of network connectivity and service placement. By employing a security approach with integrated analytics, you can readily recognize security anomalies – this is simply another way 128 Technology is fixing the internet.

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