The Art of Operational Intelligence and Science of Network Monitoring

Learn why the science of passive network monitoring is vital for the art of concisely communicating operational intelligence, with the help of Renaissance painter Giotto.

The Art of Operational Intelligence and Science of Network MonitoringBy Shane Minogue    August 13, 2015      Thinking

The artist Giotto lived and worked in Italy in the early 14th century. He is considered by many to be the first in a line of great Renaissance painters.

Legend has it that when the Pope heard of his painting skills he sent a messenger requesting a sample of his work. Giotto famously responded with a perfectly drawn circle in red paint.

The Art of Operational Intelligence and Science of Network Monitoring

Giotto had found a way to communicate his skill and craftsmanship with a very simple form, perfectly executed. It is reported that Pope Boniface recognised that Giotto "surpassed all other painters of his time".

The technology of business communications has progressed since Giotto’s time but the need to extract meaning in concise, simple form remains. Operational intelligence is supposed to be a concise understanding of what is occuring within your business and business infrastructure. In contrast with Giotto’s day there is now a vast mesh of applications sending messages across networks at close to light-speed. If we want to understand how well this infrastructure is performing we need a network monitoring system that is both light-weight and comprehensive.

At Corvil, we believe application performance across the network can best be seen using wire data. The essential task of this type of network monitoring is to decode the application flows while extracting unique identifiers from points along the data path, and then to join them up. So far so good, but messages have a habit of changing format and swapping identifiers as they traverse the application infrastructure.

Add to this, that high speed networks are capable of handling millions of messages per second and the challenge for real-time analysis becomes greater. In most network monitoring systems, the messages that bounce between different application systems will adopt the timing information of their hosts. These timestamps from different clock domains will have various levels of precision and stability. This timing information, clock synchronization, has to be reconciled if we are to accurately understand the behaviour and latency of our enterprise applications. Now, to build a real-time network monitoring system that passively analyzes huge data volumes, tracking message signatures across multiple clock domains, is a very complex challenge.

But solve this challenge, and you will be rewarded.

If you have ownership for any part of your business operations it is fair to ask: what operational intelligence or useful insight could I get from all this complex network monitoring and analysis?

  • What about the board members getting poor sound quality and dropped VoIP connections on their important video conferences?
    Tracking it down to media stream errors over a poorly configured Service Provider WAN link could save the day - and a major business deal.
  • What about the currency dealer with a $1M foreign exchange trading limit who posts ten $1M trades inside a second? A real-time alert with the full data trace can quickly resolve the value at risk.
  • What if the ever growing number of WiFi users is causing your network backbone to get flooded with fragmented packets? Right-sizing your network for this type of traffic can make make user complaints disappear.

These are the types of simple, actionable insights from operational intelligence that Corvil users have every day.

Every Corvil runs a flexible correlation engine that extracts the essential characteristics of each application message into a concise unique signature. It can process hundred of thousands of signatures per second across distributed locations. It uses light-weight and comprehensive mechanisms to correlate message flows and still maintains precise clock synchronization.

Corvil solution engineers call it PNQM - passive network quality monitoring.

Corvil users just plug it in and press the round button.

We think Giotto would be pleased.

The Art of Operational Intelligence and Science of Network Monitoring

Shane Minogue, Senior Sales Engineer, Corvil
Corvil is the leader in performance monitoring and analytics for electronic financial markets. The world’s financial markets companies turn to Corvil analytics for the unique visibility and intelligence we provide to assure the speed, transparency, and compliance of their businesses globally. Corvil watches over and assures the outcome of electronic transactions with a value in excess of $1 trillion, every day.

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