Network observability: Your network operations made easy in OCI

July 27, 2022 | 6 minute read
Jothi Prakash Prabakaran
Sr. Principal Product Manager
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Mission control, we are a go! Network operations is like mission control: Multiple tools, innumerable metrics, complex telemetry, and trying to determine if everything is under control. Many times, the problems are exacerbated by not having access to all the tools, data, and information spread across multiple systems, not being able seamlessly navigate, and not having platforms that provide an intuitive and unified user experience.

At Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), we want to make sure that we’re providing the right monitoring and observability tools to simplify your operations, reduce the time to identify and root cause issues, and offer a unified user experience. To make this goal a reality, we’re taking the first step by announcing the availability of OCI Network Command Center, which brings all the network observability tools together for easier access and a unified user experience.

A screenshot of the Network Command Center home screen.

Network observability features

OCI offers the following observability tools to support various operations use cases:

  • Virtual network topology visualization: Network Visualizer offers intuitive topology visualization to understand connections and relationships between your virtual network resources, inspect the configuration from one place, and visually troubleshoot any configuration issues.

  • Troubleshoot and diagnose virtual network configuration issues: Network Path Analyzer allows you to troubleshoot complex virtual network configurations when you have reachability problems. Network Path Analyzer provides automated configuration analysis to determine the network path the traffic takes, identify routing and security configuration issues, and provide the configuration information along the path.

  • Plan your disaster recovery or edge connectivity with confidence: The interregion latency dashboard provides real-time and historical latency information between two regions. Select your high-availability and disaster recovery use cases and other network planning proposes.

  • Gain insights into your virtual cloud network (VCN) traffic: VCN flow logs offer network traffic telemetry critical to support your security and network operations use cases. With VCN flow logs, you can gain extensive insights on the network traffic, stream the flow logs to your chosen tool using standard protocols such as Kafka, and archive the flow logs in OCI Object Storage for compliance purposes.

  • Full packet capture for performance and security analysis: Virtual test access point (VTAP) offers traffic mirroring capabilities that enable full packet capture for security analysis, troubleshooting applications, or network performance issues. VTAP is also useful for troubleshooting complex network problems by analyzing the packet headers.

Each of these network observability tools has its use and benefits. More importantly, these tools work together to offer even more value to you. For novice OCI users, navigating and accessing these tools from different places within the Oracle Cloud Console can be difficult. With no context about the use cases that each tool supports, you can spend more time than necessary troubleshooting operational issues.

A screenshot of the Network Command Center cards.

How Network Command Center can help

OCI Network Command Center brings all the virtual network monitoring features with the following features:

  • Providing easy access to all the tools from a single place

  • Easy-to-understand overviews of the use cases that these tools support

  • Offering a unified user experience for all the monitoring capabilities

The overview page in Network Command Center provides information on the various monitoring use cases that each of the tools in the Network Command Center supports. When you understand the use case, you can directly launch the tool from there to meet your operational need.

A screenshot of the Network Command Center overview page, showing the services for an example use case.

One of the main goals of Network Command Center is to offer a unified user experience across different tools. Let’s walk through a few examples of the unified user experience offered by OCI Network Command Center.

Scenario 1: Using Network Path Analyzer and VTAP

I want to check connectivity between two endpoints to verify the network path and enable full packet capture for deeper troubleshooting. According to the use case description, you can use Network Path Analyzer, create a path analysis check, and verify the actual network path between two endpoints.

A screenshot of the Network Path Analyzer in the Network Command Center.

When the path check is done, you can enable full packet capture for deeper troubleshooting by launching the VTAP configuration without leaving the Network Command Center screen.

A screenshot of the example VTAps in the compartment.

Scenario 2: Troubleshooting crossregion performance issue

Sometimes complex network troubleshooting issues involve using multiple tools to narrow down the root cause. An example of this issue is troubleshooting a performance issue between instances deployed across two different regions. Now, you can use the capabilities available through the Network Command Center.

  • With Network Visualizer, you can view and get the topology of the remote peering connections (RPCs) interconnecting these regions.

    A screenshot of the Network Visualizer (Regional routing map).

  • Next, use the interregion latency dashboard to get the real-time latency information between the two regions to rule out any issues with the OCI backbone.

    A screenshot of the interregion latency round trip time in ms graph.

  • Use VTAP for full packet capture to isolate any network or application issues.

    A screenshot of the Create VTAP screen with detail fields filled in.

You can use these cross navigations for various operational troubleshooting scenarios, identifying, and resolving issues faster. Network Command Center aims to make it easy for your network operations team to manage and support the virtual network in OCI.

Conclusion

Simplifying cloud network operations and increasing the operational efficiency are critical goals for OCI. We help you to keep up with your deployment schedule, reduce your application or service impact, and succeed in bringing and running your business in OCI. Network Command Center is the unifying platform that makes using various monitoring tools to achieve your operational goals easier.

At Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, we continuously enhance and evolve the cloud network operations toolset for our customers. We aim to help our customers retain operational simplicity and increase operational efficiency while providing more advanced cloud network functions. Stay tuned for our newest developments!

Jothi Prakash Prabakaran

Sr. Principal Product Manager

Jothi Prakash is a Sr. Principal Product Manager at Oracle, who is passionate about using innovative and disruptive technologies to solve challenging customer problems.  He is a seasoned technology veteran with over 20 years of experience in network and security domains, holds many professional certifications in this space, and a member of International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2. When not working, he loves spending time outdoors and hiking.


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