Healthy VoIP Nets�Part XXXVIII�Network Management Architectures: Xangati

This company uses an appliance-based approach to track every detail of IP network operation—including VoIP.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted Aug 12, 2008
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Xangati, Inc., headquartered in Cupertino, California, is a venture-capital–backed startup founded in 2006 focused on developing remedies for the challenges that IT organizations face that are based upon legacy management software. Xangati is a derivative of the Sanskrit word sangati, which means gathering together to learn more about ourselves.

Xangati's business philosophy is based on the premise that traditional network management solutions provide oversight for the elements that reside in specific technology silos, such as a network, server, or application. Xangati's belief is that this silo approach has diminishing returns in an era where IT is asked to manage incredibly complex communication architectures supporting virtualization, unified communications, 24/7 mobility, and triple play services.

Accordingly, Xangati delivers what it calls a silo-free solution that: discovers and creates identities for every server, client, application, and network; tracks all interrelationships; builds behavioral profiles; and allows network management personnel to "step inside" the IT infrastructure.

Xangati markets its products to enterprises, independent operations, rural telcos, government agencies, and educational and health care organizations.

Xangati has developed what it has dubbed a Rapid Problem Identification (RPI) system, which it claims provides IT organizations additional leverage when first responding to end-user, application, and network performance and availability issues.

The RPI family of network appliances is designed to accurately pinpoint the sources of application and network performance issues across the enterprise, allowing its users to swiftly and effectively track down the root causes of these problems. The appliance is easy to deploy, as it simply plugs into an available network port, and is then considered just another endpoint in the infrastructure.

The Xangati solution is based upon 15 patent-pending technologies and comprises 4 key functions.

First, the system discovers—and creates identities for—all Servers, Clients, Applications and Networks (a process Xangati calls the SCAN), with the systems having the capacity to discover and track from 3,000 to 100,000 SCAN elements, depending upon the model deployed.

With this function, the system learns about all SCAN elements, enables application support for IP-based, custom-developed, and Web applications, provides detailed inventory information, groups clients and servers to their network, and stores all of this information in a single integrated database.

Next, the system tracks all of the network inter-relationships, providing a real-time view for each and every SCAN element. This includes the top clients and servers, the volume of user base, the number of networks that it runs on, the time of day that it is used, and so on—plus providing historical reports (see Figure 1).

Third, the system builds behavior profiles, defining the profiles of performance and interaction measures, comparing the profile continuously over time, and triggering alerts when it detects a significant variance in the current network operation (see Figure 2).

Finally, the system allows the end user to step inside their network, with a real-time view of the activities of every SCAN element.

The profiles at the heart of the RPI architecture require a steady feed of network traffic. This feed can be fueled by flow data such as sFlow (defined in RFC 3176 ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc3176.txt, and supported by the sFlow organization, www.sflow.org), IPFIX (defined in RFC 3917 ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc3917.txt), NetFlow (Cisco Systems), J-Flow (Juniper), and so on.

Next, a large set of network parameters from the networking devices are monitored in real time, including the source and destination IP addresses, source and destination TCP/UDP port numbers, byte and packet counts, start and end times, input and output interface numbers, Type of Service (TOS) field identifiers, the TCP flags and encapsulated protocol types, plus routing information. The profiles are then continuously compared with the real-time network behavior to detect any abnormal conditions.

Thus, the Xangati RPI solution provides a model for managing the VoIP ecosystem starting with all its clients and servers (VoIP phones, call managers, voicemail systems, directory servers, etc.), and builds a profile that tracks the complex interactions between these devices that that occur regularly in a VoIP deployment.

When there is a change in these interactions, the RPI system will flag this as an issue to quickly pinpoint the problem affecting the VoIP infrastructure. The types of converged networking infrastructure changes that the system can uncover include: a VoIP phone that does not reach the Call Manager; a Call Manager backup that does not occur; a bandwidth-intensive application that is clogging a major VoIP artery; or a VoIP phone that is misconfigured on a non-priority VLAN.

Further details on the Xangati architecture and products can be found at www.xangati.com. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' network management architectures.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2008 DigiNet Corporation ®, All Rights Reserved


Author's Biography
Mark A. Miller, P.E., is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.

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