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Myth Busting Part 5: Eliminating the tedium and guesswork of network troubleshooting

If you’re still using CLIs, Syslogs, and SNMP to monitor and manage your network, there’s a good chance troubleshooting continues to be a thorn in your side.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Modern switches have all the telemetry data needed to accelerate problem identification and resolution. But the data has to be pulled together and presented in ways that are helpful and actionable.

Most network monitoring tools can turn raw data into attractive graphs and condensed statistics. Many provide customizable alarms that raise a flag when certain thresholds are exceeded. And some offer limited packet path tracing capabilities (often a costly add-on that requires tedious configuration).

And yet, these features and capabilities aren’t enough. Accelerating network orchestration and troubleshooting requires more visibility. More context and correlation. And more guidance.

NetOps teams need to see all packet flows – hop by hop – at line rate. They need intelligent root cause analyses that not only pinpoint anomalies and problems, but show the full scope of impact. They need prescriptive recommendations for how to resolve those issues. And they need the ability to automate the network’s response should the problems reappear, helping establish a self-healing network that requires less troubleshooting over time.

These are the advanced capabilities network operators can only get with Cisco Nexus Dashboard Insights, the network monitoring, analysis, and automation engine of Cisco Nexus Dashboard. Here are answers to some of the questions we’ve been fielding about this new tool, followed by a couple of common scenarios and how Nexus Dashboard Insights can help:

Q: How can I get a fast, consolidated view of my network connections and resources?

A: Easy. Nexus Dashboard Insights doesn’t just display leaves and spines, but also service changes, service paths, ports, load balancing, firewalls, VMs, endpoints, CPUs, memory, and more.


Q: Can I establish new connections or change existing connections?

A: Yes, of course. With Nexus Dashboard Insights, you can easily establish rules that dictate endpoint-to-endpoint communications. These rules can even define which protocols the endpoints are authorized to use (allowing communication between two endpoints over secure HTTP, for example, while blocking ICMP). This is extremely important for companies in regulated industries that have specific compliance requirements. Nexus Dashboard Insights also provides a pre-change analysis function that allows you to simulate and validate the impacts of each change and identify potential problems before those changes are made.


Q: Can I see how packets are moving from point A to point B?

A: Yep! In addition to showing all packet flows at line rate, Nexus Dashboard Insights provides a Connectivity Analysis tool that helps validate the path between two endpoints in the network fabric. This is enabled by the flow telemetry embedded in Nexus 9000 Series hardware (so it never impacts the CPU). Nexus Dashboard Insights normalizes and correlates flow records to provide the end-to-end path and latency of each packet, showing exactly where drops occurred and the context needed to understand why.


Q: Where can I get some additional advice and guidance?

A: Nexus Dashboard Insights helps there too. It has built-in advisories based on Cisco best practices. It offers prescriptive recommendations when problems are identified. And with an easy-to-use natural language query engine, you can get fast answers to questions like, “What endpoints are connected to each leaf?” without sifting through onerous topology documentation.


Q: How do these capabilities improve NetOps?

A: We’ve seen the benefits firsthand. Using Nexus Dashboard Insights, Cisco IT has cut the time spent going back-and-forth between monitoring tools by 50 percent, reduced correlation efforts by 40 to 50 percent, and accelerated mean time to detect (MTTD) by 30 percent. Read the full case study to learn more.


Let’s take a look at a couple of real-world scenarios and how they are simplified and accelerated with Nexus Dashboard Insights.

Scenario 1: Excessively high ingress utilization

Let’s say one of your switches is nearing its ingress capacity limits. Nexus Dashboard Insights not only flags the problem, but also shows the flows, VMs, and IP addresses that are potentially being impacted. It then provides recommendations for how to resolve the issue – including using higher bandwidth links or rerouting traffic to a different switch – before packet drops occur or congestion starts to hinder application performance.

Scenario 2: BGP down anomaly

Perhaps you’re experiencing anomalies with your BGP. Nexus Dashboard Insights will identify exactly which interface went down (and why) and the routes being impacted. In addition, it will provide several recommendations for resolving the issue.

Scouring logs to troubleshoot network problems is like searching for a needle in a haystack, slowing down a top NetOps priority – Mean time to innocence. While other network monitoring tools force you to piece together a complex puzzle using disparate pieces of data and guesswork, Nexus Dashboard Insights provides the visibility, context, correlation, and guidance needed to accelerate network operations and troubleshooting.

To see it in action, take a look at Cisco Nexus Dashboard.


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Author: Richard Licon

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