Ixia Brings Packet-Level Visibility to Workloads on Containers

Ixia, a unit of Keysight Business, has extended the reach of the Ixia CloudLens visibility platform into the realm of containers.

Sushil Srinivasan, senior product manager for Ixia, says the company’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) application makes use of network taps to provide real-time visibility into network traffic at the packet level. Ixia CloudLens already supports Linux, Windows and a variety of public clouds. Now that capability is being extended to include containers running on Kubernetes clusters running on-premises or in a public cloud.

Srinivasan says the introduction of containers and Kubernetes into an IT environment creates significant challenges for network managers because they lose visibility at the network packet level. Rival approaches can capture metadata from containers, but for IT organizations that need to determine precisely what occurred at any given moment, tracking network packets in real time is the only real indisputable source of actionable intelligence, he notes. That is especially true when an application spans multiple instances of Kubernetes running on different hosts that can run on-premises or in a public cloud managed by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft or Google, Srinivasan adds.

Because Ixia CloudLens is a SaaS application, it is designed to fit well within the context of a larger set of DevOps processes, he says. For example, DevOps teams can publish analytics generated by Ixia CloudLens as a series of Helm charts that can be incorporated into a DevOps process.

In addition, Ixia has validated interoperability with a wide variety of third-party network performance monitoring (NPM), application performance monitoring (APM) and intrusion detection tools. That capability eliminates any need to backhaul data to a virtual machine or network packet broker.

Srinivasan says by extending the reach of Ixia CloudLens, companies no longer need to acquire a separate tool for tracking packets in a container environment. Rather, IT organizations can use the same SaaS application across all their workloads.

It’s still early days when it comes to deploying containers in a production environment. But it is clear applications based on microservices architectures enabled by containers will be highly distributed. Those distributed microservices will have many dependencies spanning multiple hosts connected to the same network. Visibility into network packets traveling between those hosts will be required to troubleshoot those applications.

It’s not clear in the age of DevOps who inside the organization will drive the need for packet-level visibility. Typically, network managers are the ones most interested in analyzing packets. But as applications become more distributed, many developers are demanding more visibility into networks that now essentially function as extended backplanes for their applications. The need for that level of visibility is slowly but surely also starting to create the need to make network specialists part of a larger DevOps teams.

Of course, because Ixia CloudLens is a SaaS application, some developers may simply do an end run around networking teams altogether. After all, once a monitoring tool exposes an application programming interface (API), it’s fairly accessible to almost anyone with a minimal amount of programming skills.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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