Thanks to all who joined us and submitted questions to the Pluribus NV Webinar Q&A session. During the webinar, we learned key requirements for a successful NV deployment, how a true network fabric can serve as the basis for analytics ad insight and how to monitor that fabric, and how a network fabric can exceed the capabilities of more traditional tap and broker networks while maintaining a lower price point. After the live demonstration from Pluribus Networks, the audience and the presenters took part in a thoroughly engaging Q&A session. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and were not able to answer all of your questions. Read the full Q&A below:
Why haven’t other vendors come out with something as elegant as VCF-IA?
Pluribus: Other vendors do not understand FLOWS. They focus on packets. In modern data center traffic, the use of flows is key to building modern applications made up of services. Pluribus’ VCF technology is about creating flow-oriented connectivity and monitoring flows is thereby quite easy to do.
What’s classified as an “app”?
Pluribus: Flows of information can occur based on any application type. HTTP is a good example of a workhorse app that is used throughout the data center.
What’s the sampling rate for gathering data?
Pluribus: By default, VCF-IA is set at 1 minute intervals. Keep in mind that FLOWS have a duration and may include many packets that comprise the flow. A default setting of 1 minute allows flows to be seen quite easily without overwhelming the collection engine. It would be quite rare for a flow to exist that would be missed at this interval. 1 minute was chosen as the default for nearly all monitoring vendors’ products.
With VCF-IA, Is it correct that there would no longer be a need for Wireshark or other similar analyzer?
Pluribus: Correct. VCF-IA is a standalone application that does not need any additional components, open-source tools, or otherwise to be completely functional.
Will VCF-Insight Analytics provide visibility to my existing LAN?
Pluribus: VCF-IA requires physical layer access for instrumentation. For existing infrastructures, a Pluribus Ethernet collection appliance can be deployed along with the VCF-IA software to provide that access. For Pluribus Networks fabric installation, typically top-of-rack deployments that include Pluribus switches, the remote instrumentation access is a built-in function of the switches themselves and is available while the switches are providing fabric based connectivity. In this case, only the VCF-IA software need be added.
Can VCF-IA be accessed remotely?
Pluribus: VCF-IA is completely web-based and does not require any plug-ins or client-side applications. Any standard web browser that supports HTML5 will function as a display station for VCF-IA properly.
How much information can I collect, what is the limit? What is the length of time that VCF-IA maintains historical flow information?
Pluribus: VCF-IA data collection is performed at regular intervals. No payload is stored, and only the flow characteristics are stored, which yields a consumption of approximately half of a kilobyte per flow, regardless of the duration or type of flow. This information is stored in an unstructured database on the server. The size of the data storage device determines the number of flows that can be stored, and the number of flows per hour can vary greatly from data center to data center. In a typical configuration for a 500 rack data center, more than 3 months of information can be stored on a server that includes a 1TB data storage drive.
Can VCF-IA identify protocol types by vendor name?
Pluribus: VCF-IA uses the standard Ethernet Frame Vendor_ID field to determine vendor names. This lookup is done in real-time to allow all display fields to be translated from hex values to natural vendor names.
Is Analytics available throughout my entire fabric if I have Pluribus? Will VCF-IA work with my existing Pluribus fabric and switches?
Pluribus: Yes. All Pluribus Freedom switches include the analytics APIs required to allow VCF-IA to gather telemetry flow data. Networks which are built on Pluribus Networks switches can simply install the VCF-IA virtual appliance image on any ESX server.
Can you reconfirm for us what is it that differentiates it / what is most unique about it? How does VCF-IA compare to the other networking monitoring solutions I have seen?
Pluribus: VCF-IA can be deployed as a stand-alone monitoring solution for existing infrastructures In this type of deployment, it needs to derives its packet/flow information from existing switch SPAN/MIRROR ports. The Pluribus Networks VCF architecture and our hardware elements do the conversion from packets to flows for use by VCF-IA. VCF-IA can be less than HALF the cost for similarly features solutions from competitive vendors. It will provide the vast majority of the interactive capabilities of the competition, but uniquely have the additional awareness of FLOWS rather than simply packets.
Are demonstration copies of VCF-IA available?
Pluribus: Absolutely. Web-based demonstrations or software/hardware can be deployed locally in a test lab or similar can be requested by contacting your sales rep, email@example.com, or any Pluribus reseller.
Is VCF-IA sold as a service or on-premise?
Pluribus: VCF-IA is a software solution that is intended to be installed in the local network of the data center. It can be purchased as a perpetual license or as a subscription. Due to the high-performance instrumentation requirement, It is supplied as a fully configured software appliance suitable for loading upon an ESX/ESXi host.
Can I install the VCF-IA software on my existing server?
Pluribus: Any ESX/ESXi host can be used to deploy the VCF-IA software appliance. The memory and storage requirements can be found on the latest data sheet for VCF-IA. The ESX/ESXi host must be network accessible to all user workstations that wish access to it interactively.
Are there any privacy/security issues with monitoring all of my flows?
Pluribus: Since VCF-IA is collecting flow information rather than packets, all payload data is discarded. A flow typically consumes 500 bytes of data, regardless of the length or type of transaction. In this way, no user-space data is stored at any point in time.