Arista, ExtraHop Partner on Network Visibility, Provisioning

The companies will demonstrate their joint Persistent Monitoring Architecture at the upcoming VMworld 2013 show.

Arista Networks is teaming with ExtraHop Networks to offer a joint solution designed to give organizations better and more persistent visibility into their virtualized and physical data center environments, a capability officials with both companies said is key to the adoption of software-defined networks.

The vendors will demonstrate their Persistent Monitoring Architecture during the VMworld 2013 show, which runs Aug. 25 to 29 in San Francisco.

Virtualized networks—an important part of the larger push toward software-defined data centers—will offer new levels of programmability, scalability and automation, but also will increase complexity in the environment, according to Erik Giesa, senior vice president of worldwide marketing and business development at ExtraHop.

To help deal with the complexity of these dynamic environments, organizations need cross-tier monitoring and visibility capabilities that enable them to automatically discover and map dependencies of all applications and infrastructure components, and adapt to change in the data center.

"The whole point of [the joint Arista-ExtraHop solution] is solving that persistent visibility challenge," Giesa told eWEEK.

The companies' Persistent Monitoring Architecture integrates the Data ANalyZer (DANZ) features in Arista's Extensible Operating System (EOS) with ExtraHop's Context and Correlation Engine (CCE). Through the integration, IT administrators can leverage the Arista's DANZ capabilities to direct traffic to ExtraHop's CCE, which gives the administrators the persistent, real-time visibility into Layer 2-7 networks via IT operations analytics.

"By Arista getting us all the traffic, we can make sense of it," Geisa said.

In an environment where resources are constantly being provisioned and de-provisioned, and where virtual machines are being moved around the data center, the ability to discover, classify and map what is going on with applications and the infrastructure—and to dynamically adapt to changes—is important, he said.

In addition, this can be done without making any changes to the network infrastructure and without the use of agents.

Key features of the Persistent Monitoring Architecture include continuous auto-discovery of virtual and physical servers and their associated MAC addresses through ExtraHop's API. In addition, the solution gives administrators persistent visibility when virtual machines are moved via VMware's vMotion technology—including when the virtual machines are spun up, spun down and migrated across the data center.

"Paired with ExtraHop's technology, the DANZ features in Arista EOS are able to provide a seamless and persistent SDN solution that eliminates lack of application visibility within high-stakes virtualized environments," Ed Chapman, vice president of business development and alliances for Arista, said in a statement.

Monitoring will continue to be a key issue in increasingly virtualized environments, according to ExtraHop CEO Jesse Rothstein.

"In many ways, virtualization and software-defined data centers can simplify the management of IT operations," Rothstein said in a statement. "However, many organizations find that when applications are divorced from dedicated infrastructure and the network, traditional approaches to monitoring performance, availability and security no longer work."

According to ExtraHop's Geisa, such issues in traditional monitoring include the polling not being in real time, the need for agents that creates another layer of overhead that works against the agile nature of software-defined networks (SDNs), and the lack of dynamic network provisioning needed when new VLANs are created or vMotion events occur.

Persistent visibility and monitoring are "just the next evolutionary step as SDN grows up," he said.