Keith Bromley
Sr. Manager, Product Marketing at Ixia

Zero Touch Programming – How to Decrease Monitoring Equipment Programming Time

October 31, 2018 by Keith Bromley

One of the key factors of any IT purchase is the usability of the product or solution. In fact, usability can make or break the total cost of ownership (TCO) for most projects. This is especially true for network monitoring solutions. The term “usability” includes the initial programming and set up effort, as well as any ongoing configuration and maintenance changes. Therefore, the system must not only be easy to set up, but must also be easy to maintain as well.

This is often easier said than done. Networks are constantly changing due to new applications, new users, new technology (virtualization, SDN, public cloud, etc.), and new business directions. At the same time, the monitoring network must keep up. Inaccurate filters, lost data, and long troubleshooting times are not acceptable.

While there will always be challenges to overcome, IT needs to resolve the current challenges on their list so that they can keep up and not drown. One of these challenges is equipment configuration time. Automation can be used to overcome this challenge.

Specifically, IT need faces the following common challenges for network monitoring solutions:

  • Initial manual provisioning at scale is slow and error prone
  • Increased complexity and productivity delays due to misunderstandings and delays between the build team and remote teams (installation, technicians, etc.)
  • Post-deployment, ongoing updates to the visibility system are typically slow and error-prone due to complex manual configuration processes

As I mentioned, one of the things you can do to reduce, if not eliminate these problems, is to automate the network filtering process. As your network and users change, you can keep costs down and efficiency up by using an automated solution that adapts to changes with minimal effort. Network packet brokers (NPBs) from Ixia (A Keysight Business) are a clear example.

Ixia NPBs can support zero-touch provisioning, which drastically reduces configuration time and cost. Built-in features to the NPB, like a Representational State Transfer (REST) interface, allows for automated provisioning systems which decreases start-to-finish programming times to five minutes or less.

In a different use case, orchestration and management systems can be used to support a zero-touch provisioning process. In the case of the NPB, built-in features like a RESTful interface allow for the use of automated provisioning systems, which reduces start-to-finish programming times to five minutes or less.

Besides the initial programming and provisioning, this solution can also be adapted to implement a continuous self-configuration system for the NPB and the monitoring data capture process, taking advantage of the flexibility of virtualized tools and cloud-based security analytics tools for monitoring. As the network (and data sources) changes, the NPB can be reconfigured automatically to collect the right data. Your application performance monitoring (APM) system can then continue to perform its central function of analyzing data.

With automation it’s easy to build a self-provisioning system that will set up, update, patch, manage licenses, and automatically discover and configure the NPB without manual intervention. There is also resource material that is openly available to assist IT in this activity.

For more information on this topic, you can consult this document – Quick Tips To Create Self-Provisioning Packet Broker.