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Midokura, Pluribus address demand for better SDN management

Midokura and Pluribus Networks have released SDN management tools as companies wrestle with the complex networking architecture.

Organizations deploying SDN and network virtualization often find they lack adequate management tools. Midokura and Pluribus Networks are the latest SDN vendors to address the problem.

The vendors introduced this week SDN management tools for maintaining their respective products. Midokura tucked its applications into the most recent version of Midokura Enterprise Midonet (MEM), while Pluribus Networks released a separate product called VCF Insight Analytics (VCF-IA).

From 60% to 70% of early SDN adopters surveyed by research firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) said their existing management tools did not fully support their SDN underlays or overlays. The actual percentage varied according to the tool, which included software for troubleshooting; planning and engineering; and availability and performance monitoring.

"This is why you are seeing SDN vendors come out with new network management capabilities," EMA analyst Shamus McGillicuddy said. "Early SDN products focused on architecture and orchestration. Now, they are expanding into monitoring and troubleshooting."

Midokura and Pluribus follow Cisco and Big Switch Networks, which have been adding analytics to their SDN products over the last year, McGillicuddy said. In general, the SDN management technologies these vendors are adding will monitor and analyze traffic flows as they cross physical and virtual network elements.

"SDN is very much about managing and optimizing traffic on a flow-by-flow basis, whereas legacy networks were about providing enough reliable, low-latency bandwidth to support all the traffic hitting the network," he said.

Midokura MEM 5.0

Midokura's MEM 5.0 contains a new technology called Insights that provides details on the state of the Layer 2-4 MEM overlay. Midokura has designed Midonet for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) clouds built on OpenStack, an open source initiative aimed at providing technology that supports interoperability between cloud services.

Insights' capabilities include providing historical flow data for troubleshooting network performance problems. The SDN management software also lets cloud service operators monitor network usage by each tenant.

Early SDN products focused on architecture and orchestration. Now, they are expanding into monitoring and troubleshooting.
Shamus McGillicuddyanalyst, Enterprise Management Associates

Another feature of the network virtualization overlay is port mirroring, which lets operators forward a copy of each packet from routers and other network devices to a deep-packet inspection firewall or an intrusion detection system. The capability is useful for detecting anomalies that could indicate a security threat.

Midokura uses open source ELK for managing the Midonet overlay, said Daniel Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. ELK is an acronym for three applications: Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana.

"People who know them will find [MEM management tools] familiar," Conde said. Midokura rivals with the same SDN management and monitoring capabilities include PLUMgrid and OpenContrail, an open source network virtualization platform developed by Juniper Networks.

Pluribus VCF-IA

Pluribus' VCF-IA collects metadata from traffic flowing through every physical and virtual port on the switch maker's highly programmable fabric, McGillicuddy said. VCF-IA then crunches the data to present flow-by-flow network performance at any point in time.

As a result, network managers "can gain visibility into traffic behavior over extended periods of time, which will enable them to tackle use cases like capacity planning and performance optimization," McGillicuddy said.

Pluribus has also introduced a VCF-IA appliance for flow-level monitoring within third-party infrastructures. The vendor sells VCF-IA under a perpetual- or subscription-based license.

Tech buyers can expect vendors to continue to beef up SDN management capabilities in products that address such a sophisticated networking architecture. "Enterprises lack the engineering, monitoring and troubleshooting tools they need to succeed with this new technology," McGillicuddy said.

Meanwhile, the number of SDN deployments is rising. The SDN market, comprised of physical network infrastructure, virtualization and control software, applications and professional services, will grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 54% through 2020, when it will reach $12.5 billion, according to IDC.

Next Steps

Getting up to speed on SDN management applications

Using SDN to ease IoT management troubles

How SDN can help in cloud management

Dig Deeper on SDN management applications

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