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Network Telemetry

What is Network Telemetry?

Network telemetry is the process of collecting and analyzing data from a network, to gain insights into its performance and health. It involves using various network devices such as switches, routers, firewalls, and servers to gather information about network traffic and activities. This data can then be used to monitor and manage the network, as well as identify any potential issues or areas for improvement.

Network telemetry is an essential part of modern networking. It allows companies to gain better visibility and control over their networks. With proper telemetry, it can be easier to understand what is happening on a network, resulting in reduced downtime, enhanced security, and improved overall efficiency.

How does Network Telemetry work?

Network telemetry uses different data sources and collection methods to gather relevant information about a network. These data sources can include logs, flow records, packet captures, SNMP traps, and more. The collected data is then stored in a central repository or sent to a network management system for analysis.

Network telemetry also involves the use of monitoring tools and software that can interpret and visualize the data in a meaningful way. This allows network administrators to quickly identify any anomalies or issues within the network and take appropriate action.

Understanding the difference between observability, monitoring, and telemetry is important for network telemetry. Check out our blog post for more information.

Defining the Telemetry Framework

The telemetry framework encompasses the entire system used for collecting, aggregating, and analyzing data from an array of network devices. This system is typically composed of four key components:

  • Data Sources: Various network devices like routers, switches, and firewalls that generate data about network activities.
  • Collectors: Tools or software that aggregate data from the different data sources within the network.
  • Storage: A central repository where this collected data is stored for further analysis.
  • Visualization/Analysis Tools: Software programs that process the stored data to visualize and analyze network performance.

The telemetry framework essentially guides the way data is handled and processed within the network telemetry system. From data collection to analysis, each stage of the framework plays a crucial role in providing comprehensive visibility into network performance. This framework forms the backbone of network telemetry, making it an invaluable tool for ensuring network health, security, and efficiency.

Network Telemetry Protocols and Standards

There are several protocols and standards that facilitate the collection of network telemetry data. These include:

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)
SNMP is a standard protocol used for monitoring and managing devices on IP networks. It allows for the collection of data from network devices, such as routers and switches, using a standardized format.

NetFlow is a Cisco proprietary protocol that collects IP traffic flow data. It provides valuable insights into network utilization and can be used for security monitoring and troubleshooting.

IPFIX (Internet Protocol Flow Information Export)
IPFIX is an IETF standard based on Cisco’s NetFlow v9 protocol. It allows for the export of flow data in a flexible format, making it easier to analyze and store.

sFlow is another IETF standard that collects packet samples from network devices, providing visibility into network traffic flows and performance. It can be used for real-time monitoring and troubleshooting.

Telemetry Network Protocol (TNP)
TNP is a proprietary protocol developed by Cisco for collecting telemetry data from network devices. It offers a high-volume, low-latency solution for real-time monitoring and management of networks.

Challenges and Requirements in Network Telemetry

While network telemetry offers numerous benefits, implementing it is not without challenges. One major obstacle is the sheer volume of data generated by network devices. Managing, storing, and analyzing these large amounts of data can be complex and resource-intensive. Privacy and security concerns can also arise as telemetry involves the collection and storage of potentially sensitive data.

In terms of requirements, a robust network telemetry system needs to be scalable to handle growing data volumes and adaptive to accommodate different types of networks and technologies. It should also offer comprehensive visibility into network activities and performance. In addition to this, compliance with data privacy regulations and the ability to integrate with other systems for data analysis and visualization are also crucial.

To overcome these challenges and meet these requirements, companies may need to invest in advanced network management tools, skilled personnel, and robust storage and processing infrastructure. They may also need to implement strict data privacy and security measures to protect sensitive network data.

OpenTelemetry and Network Telemetry: How are they different?

Both OpenTelemetry and network telemetry deal with data collection and observation, however they serve different purposes and work in different contexts. While network telemetry provides insights into the health and performance of your network, OTel offers visibility into the performance of your applications.

Network Telemetry Applications
Network telemetry has numerous applications in modern networking, including:
Want to learn more?

Read the Gartner report and learn why telemetry pipeline solutions represent a robust and largely untapped source of business insight beyond event and incident response.


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