Midokura, Pluribus Bring Visibility, Analytics to SDN Environments

Midokura is including MEM Insights technology in its new MEM 5.0 release, while Pluribus is offering its VCF-IA for any networks.

network management

Midokura and Pluribus Networks want to bring greater management and analytics to virtualized network environments.

Both vendors this week unveiled new offerings that aim to give users greater visibility into their software-defined networking (SDN) traffic and tools for managing and gaining greater insight into that traffic. Midokura unveiled the latest generation of its Midokura Enterprise MidoNet (MEM) platform that includes MEM Insights, a new technology that brings advanced analytics and dynamic visualization to OpenStack environments.

For its part, Pluribus rolled out VCF Insight Analytics (VCF-IA), which can be deployed on any data center network to gain greater insights into the traffic running through it and the performance of the network itself. VCF-IA can be used as a stand-alone product that can be deployed on a server to take advantage of the Pluribus VCF network already running, or packaged with a Pluribus F64 collector appliance, which can be used for monitoring flow levels in third-party networks.

The goal is to give users "instantaneous, intuitive and uncompromised understanding of the performance of your business as seen from the network layer itself," Pluribus CEO Kumar Srikantan said in a statement.

"IT organizations have historically been hobbled by the lack of affordable network insight and associated metrics, and to date, traditional hardware-based monitoring solutions have been difficult to deploy and prohibitively expensive," Srikantan said. "We wanted to bring deep visibility at the application level to every network and make it available to every network manager."

SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) are designed to make networks more programmable, scalable, agile and cost-efficient by putting the control plane and networking tasks—like firewalls and load balancing—into software that can run on lower-cost commodity systems. In a recent survey conducted by QuinStreet Enterprise (publisher of eWEEK), cost savings, improved network performance and increased productivity were cited by respondents as the key benefits of SDN.

However, 29 percent noted that a key challenge of SDN is effective application management.

Midokura is looking to address management and visibility issues, according to CTO Pino de Candia.

"Operational tools are generally geared towards configurations, monitoring in OpenStack, but they offer no visibility into encapsulated traffic," de Candia said in a statement. "From Midokura's own experience as an operator, and by working with operators ourselves, we've seen firsthand the dire need for analytic and end-to-end operational tools for management of network infrastructure."

The vendor's MEM technology creates an intelligent software-based network abstraction layer that sits between the hosts and physical network through decoupling the OpenStack infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud from the network hardware. With MEM Insights in MEM 5.0, the company is looking to make OpenStack environments easier to manage, operate and troubleshoot, officials said.

MEM Insights offers histories of traffic flows through both physical hosts and virtual networking environments to help improve network performance, usage reports that give cloud operators greater visibility into network usage by tenants, and traffic counters to monitor bandwidth and examine in real-time the load on virtual objects. In addition, there also is port mirroring of any device, including bridge, routers and output, onto a firewall or intrusion-detection system for greater security.

"With MEM Insights, users can make data-driven decisions about network management and simplify troubleshooting," Adam Johnson, vice president of business at Midokura, said in an email to eWEEK. "MEM can help them unify their operations team by eliminating IT silos with a consistent set of data about physical hosts and virtual network objects from a single pane of glass. It can help streamline IT processes and typical network administrative tasks, such as bandwidth monitoring, flow history analysis and port mirroring, as conventional tools lacked visibility into virtualized networks."

Also included in MEM 5.0 is support for NFV use cases and improved application availability, with all network services being distributed and fault-tolerant, which officials said eliminates single points of failure. The new version is available now.

For Pluribus, VCF-IA is designed to give customers a broad operational view of their data center networks. As a stand-alone product, VCF-IA works with existing VCF APIs that are found in all switches powered by the company's Netvisor technology. The new analytics tools uses the APIs to continuously collect the metadata associated with every flow throughout the network, and the metadata is stored in a data repository for future analysis. Included in VCF-IA is a real-time analytics engine that can be used to pinpoint individual events or particular types of flow for study, officials said.

When coupled with a Pluribus F64 collector appliance, it allows traffic from up to 64 span/mirror ports to be collected and then converted by the appliance into connections. Their flows can then be analyzed via VCF-IA. The new offering is available now.