Leveraging MetaConnect to reduce network outages

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Leveraging MetaConnect to reduce network outages

Posted on July 16, 2015 by David Snowdon 16 July 2015

With recent high profile outages of corporations reported in the media there has been a lot of focus on reliability and how to avoid system outages. As the network is at the heart of all of these systems it is key that the network is designed to minimize downtime, but continue to maintain performance levels. While the initial goal of Metamako devices was to reduce latency for financial trading applications, the range of use cases has organically expanded to helping our clients create simpler, more flexible and more reliable networks - with almost-zero impact to performance. More recently network architects are under pressure to build more reliable networks within strict budget constraints. Below we've shared some of the ways in which MetaConnect is being used to build better and more cost-effective networks:

1. Reduce the number of devices in the data center. Simplify the network.

MetaConnect can be a replacement for patch panels, top of rack switches, media convertors and optical taps. Each of these devices and each cable between these devices is an additional potential point of failure. By reducing the number of potential points of failure naturally we reduce the chances of a network outage. Each of these devices generally require monitoring, management and maintenance which can significantly increase operational costs - by performing all of these functions in a single device, MetaConnect helps create a network which is simpler, more cost effective and less prone to failure.

Due to the fact that MetaConnect supports any SFP/SFP+ compliant module it allows you to remove expensive SFP's where they are not needed and simplify rack configuration by using direct attach copper (DAC) cables. Metamako supports driving up to 7m DAC cables without any bit errors. Once again, this creates a simpler, more uniform network, with less components - but also can be a significant cost saving for you!

2. Increase flexibility. Make physical changes to the network without undesired effect.

MetaConnect can be used to enable a virtual patch panel for remote network configuration. According to Forbes, 51% of network outages are due to human error.Leveraging MetaConnect reduces the number of physical trips to the data center minimizes the chances of accidentally patching a cable to the wrong device, or snagging and detaching a cable by mistake. In co-location facilities data-center “hot-hands” can often run at an expensive hourly rate - not only does MetaConnect present a cost saving over these operational costs - but provides a level of confidence that reducing the physical access to the network, will reduce the number of overall outages.data center network outages

3. Create the ability to roll back any network changes. Improve reliability.

One thing that was clear from the recent NYSE outage is that making a change can increase the risk of an outage. When an outage does occur, the cry of “Can we put it back the way it was before?” is usually heard pretty soon after as it’s determined a recent change may have been linked to the root cause. In the networking world, a roll back is never as simple as it seems - it may involve physical patching changes, software changes and configuration changes. MetaConnect allows you to instantaneously roll back patching changes as simply as one would roll back software and configuration changes - taking the risk out of making complex networking changes and increasing confidence that rollback is actually possible.

4. Enhance visibility. Know what's going on in your network.

How can you fix the problem, if you don’t know were it is? We’ve discussed before how MetaConnect is a better (and more cost effective) way to tap. Typically with optical taps there is have no visibility as to where issues may lie until packet errors are seen at a receiving device. MetaConnect provides layer 1+ packet statistics, can timestamp the data and provides visibility into optical signals. The timestamping features in MetaConnect allow you to know exactly when a packet has arrived at your network and measure downstream activity from that point. For integration with typical monitoring systems MetaConnect also provides statistics via
SNMP and LLDP for discovery. Industry standard tools such as tcpdump can be used to track the data passing through the device and diagnose connectivity issues. Need to capture more information on your problem? - More often than not tapping/capture devices are not wired to the devices where the problems are occurring - increasing the time from problem to resolution. When using MetaConnect as a patch panel, you can choose to enable a tap on any stream at any time, without affecting the latency of the pass through stream.

Our conclusion is that not only does MetaConnect bring you a simpler, flexible, more reliable and visible network - it does so by bringing a number of cost savings that far outweigh any initial investment in the device. Want to make up your own mind? Contact us today for an evaluation.