A Closer Look at Version 16 of the Explorer Suite


We launched version 16 of the Packet Design Explorer Suite last week with some great new troubleshooting and traffic engineering features and enhancements.

Here’s how you can use the new capabilities to add value to your network and customers.

Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPNs:

Service providers use Layer 3 VPNs to provide VPN services to customers for connectivity between branches and to deliver mission-critical services to remote branches. A provider may have thousands of L3 VPNs carrying different services, catering to their customers. In such large and complex networks, downtime or connectivity issues can be a pain to resolve. Fixing issues efficiently requires you to first quickly isolate the problematic customer or service VPN and understand which network infrastructure elements deliver the service.

The Explorer products help you find the actual path taken by the VPN traffic and analyze each link, interface, and device in the path to help you get to the root cause of an issue.

global-search

From the global search option in version 16, you can quickly find the VPN (or for that matter any inventory you are looking for) simply by entering an identifier, like company name, and selecting it in the drop-down search results. This will show a mini-map of just the part of the network that supports the VPN service. You can also see contextual performance information for its underlying infrastructure that highlights metrics that are out of baseline. This workflow is dramatically more efficient than most NOC triage processes in use today and should reduce MTTR as well as help avoid costly SLA penalties and customer churn.

l3vpn-analysis

For diagnosing hard-to-find transitory VPN issues – those that come and go before they can be isolated and diagnosed – “network DVR” capabilities are available in the mini-map views. This means you can “rewind and replay” the network to view the exact routing behavior for the VPN service at the point in time a problem occurred.

These superfast troubleshooting capabilities extend to Layer 2 VPNs too. You can drill down into an L2 VPN, view it on a mini-map, find the status of all virtual leased lines (VLL), and understand how the participating infrastructure is performing (as well as how it performed at selected moments in time).

With these enhanced workflows, you can now troubleshoot problems easier and resolve tickets that otherwise would be closed with no trouble found. Being able to provide a definitive reason for transitory service interruptions and poor performance (and the corrective actions) should go a long way to improving customer satisfaction.

Traffic Engineering:

We are seeing growing interest by network operators in Segment Routing (SR) as an alternative to RSVP-TE tunnels. However, before and after deploying SR in production networks, they need management visibility into them. Several customers have told us they plan to use both RSVP-TE and SR-TE tunnels and want the ability to manage all of them from a single place, in context with their entire network.

The Route Explorer for Traffic Engineering module of the Explorer Suite addresses these concerns. It is the first solution from an independent vendor to offer visibility into any type of TE tunnel, be it RSVP-TE or SR-TE. A new summary page shows all your TE tunnels, their status, and other related metrics, such as protection, fast reroute (FRR) protection, and secondary tunnel status. All of these metrics are updated in real time.

Traffic Engineering summary

Segment Routing is also supported in our SDN Traffic Engineering application. The SDN-TE application supports the creation and provisioning of both RSVP-TE and SR-TE tunnels using traffic matrices, predictive analytics, and customizable policies, thus providing our customers with even more flexibility and control over their networks.

Network Performance:

In large networks with thousands of devices, it is difficult to identify possible performance issues. A new summary dashboard in the Performance Explorer module presents an overview of the health of your network, based on SNMP metrics, and highlights performance deviations from adaptive baseline values. These SNMP metrics are correlated with Route Explorer’s control plane analytics to provide path-aware performance analysis. This way, you can quickly notice problem areas in the network that go unnoticed by traditional tools, and proactively prevent them from becoming major problems.

network performance-summary

Other Enhancements:

Explorer Suite version 16 also enhances IGP analysis. The new version supports a quick path search feature which lets you drill down into any source–destination pair with a few clicks, helping to speed up your troubleshooting process. Furthermore, all IGP routing topologies have been brought into a single page with summary and analysis views. The summary page provides an at-a-glance view of your IGP routing while supporting drill down into each specific topology, route, path, link, interface, and device for detailed analysis.

If you are a Packet Design customer, ask your account manager about version 16. If you’re not a customer, please check it out!

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