Cisco Unveils Data Center Monitoring Platform

Tetration Analytics, which gathers telemetry from Nexus 9K switches and server sensors, promises complete visibility.

Marcia Savage

June 15, 2016

3 Min Read
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Cisco took the wraps off an analytics platform it claims will provide data center operators with complete real-time visibility into what's happening in their environment for improved operations, troubleshooting, and compliance.

Cisco Tetration Analytics, which CEO Chuck Robbins announced at a media event today in New York City, collects data from hardware sensors embedded in Cisco Nexus 9000 Series switches and software sensors on Linux and Windows servers. While there are a lot of network and IT monitoring tools on the market, Cisco touts Tetration as the only one to provide comprehensive telemetry across the data center at wire speed.

The platform is designed to help enterprises on a number of fronts: cloud migration by providing visibility into application behavior; creating policy baselines based; troubleshooting outages; security breach forensics; and policy modeling. Cisco bills Tetration as a"time machine" for the data center that provides a way for operators to look back at what happened in the past and also to look ahead – i.e., test a policy to see how it might impact applications.

Cisco Tetration Analytics

Cisco Tetration Analytics Platform Image (002).png

The Tetration platform is designed as an appliance with the components pre-installed: 35 Cisco UCS-C220 servers, petabytes of storage capacity, three Cisco Nexus 9300 switches, and analytics software. The appliance monitors up to a million unique flows per second. Cisco says the server sensors aren't resource hogs and that the platform doesn't require a lot of big-data analytics skills to use.

On Wednesday, Robbins thanked the engineering team at Cisco's San Jose headquarters that developed Tetration over the past two years. The word Tetration was coined by mathematician Reuben Louis Goodstein and is defined as "the next hyperoperation after exponentiation."

Dan Conde, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said in an email interview that some monitoring tools make similar promises of complete visibility and the ability to view and replay, but that Tetration is different because it focuses on gathering data from both the network and servers. He also noted that the platform can provide policy enforcement via integration with Cisco APIC by working with the Nexus 9K switches in ACI mode.

"So you can imagine that eventually, you can monitor behavior, and automatically enforce policy.  Not too many products do enforcement at the low infrastructure level," he said.

The platform's visibility into cloud workloads is useful for those who run a hybrid cloud, but most of the visibility is limited to organizations that use Cisco networking equipment, Conde added. For data centers running other network gear, Tetration is limited to server sensor data.

With an appliance form factor, Cisco is offering a turnkey alternative to a DIY approach to analytics, Conde said. Cisco says the box is designed to be up and running out of the box in about three hours.

Cisco said it built the platform from scratch over the past two years and incorporated a lot of open source software such as Hadoop into the product.

The price tag of the initial appliance, scheduled to be available in July, is eye-popping: $3 million. Cisco said it's considering different form factors for smaller enterprises.

About the Author(s)

Marcia Savage

Executive Editor, Network Computing

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