Walking Through the Network Insight Journey
Visualization of technologies was always in the imagination or drawn out by hand until we were able to incorporate tools like Visio® to help with mapping. At that point, we assumed the sky was the limit! If we wanted to dive a little further into the technologies that we were using, we could easily design and arrange them within Visio and have a diagram to help the teams. Sigh, those were the days.
Let me tell you about the struggle of all these great documentation and mapping tools. They were still MANUAL. You had to verify they were updated, then you had to make sure the connections were labeled and the technology was accurately matched to your design. Then, storing these and keeping them up to date as your business grew became a nightmare. For some, it just stopped progressing, while others would start from scratch or add to it and not maintain it. Granted, there were and are diligent lone soldiers making sure these were up to date and accurate at all times. (I think.)
Jumping ahead a few years, we had network automation come through for mapping, like the Network Topology Mapper that would at least find an update through connections and label it for you. This technology is incredible, but still just showed physical information. I need to know the LOGICAL technologies that are at play behind these devices as well.
Fast forward to now, and we have Network Insight™. These Network Insight concepts are what I have been waiting for, and I’m sure many others agree. The logical representation of what the devices are doing and their feature sets is fantastic. Command-line interface monitoring has kicked down the doors of flat thinking. We no longer rely strictly on MIB files and OID walks. SolarWinds goes directly to the device and runs the same commands you would while troubleshooting and representing the data.
Game changer, I know, but in retrospect, these network devices like F5 BIG-IPs, Cisco® ASAs, and Cisco Nexus devices should be monitored differently. In fact, my colleague, Leon Adato, expands upon this in his recent eBook, check it out here. We should be looking at their logical representations and seeing how their features are working so we can visually and quickly solve the issues that are, figuratively, needles in a haystack.
I want to be able to see the IP sec tunnels, remote to site, site to site, and ACLs within my Cisco ASAs. Understanding the design and usage of these devices and creating baselines of expectations fuels my heart. To understand the full stack of my BIG-IP devices and to see the concurrent users is a quick visual understanding. Knowing visually which physical interfaces are within my vPC and on which Nexus device: is the primary or secondary having the issue? Viewing the config snippets of these interfaces by just going to their interfaces page? Showing new hires or new tier 1 employees the concept of these devices helps them to be better engineers now and in the future.
Let’s stop spinning tires and thinking that monitoring is merely a Christmas tree and health is all that matters on green and red. We need to change our monitoring mindsets and leap forward into the significant network insight game-changing technology within SolarWinds®. If you want to dive into each one of these Network Insight topics, check out my eBook, How to Simplify Monitoring for Complex Network Devices.