Flowing with the New IP

Authored by Bill Beckett, Saisei Founder and Chief Strategy Officer

When we look at what New IP means, at its bare essentials, personally I think about flows. But flows have meant different things to different people and my own thinking about flows has changed over time as well.

The flow that fits into the New IP is the discrete IP session(s) you create when you go to a website, stream a movie, start a file download, have a Skype call, do Facetime chat or exchange routing information, etc. The path flows travel today is mind-boggling.

Telling a story
For example, flows are literally flowing out of our laptops (no pun intended), into switches, though routers, past firewalls, into access gear, converted from digital to analog and back to digital, passed onto edge routers, into core routers, through Internet exchanges and into data centers, load balancers, more switches and end on a server or another laptop somewhere.

Honestly, that’s probably a gross underestimate of devices a single flow goes through in its life. An end-to-end flow might traverse somewhere between three and maybe 300 different network elements or devices. A flow might last three milliseconds, three seconds, 30 seconds, three hours or three weeks.

Every flow tells a story and they can say so much: who started it; where is it going; what application is it; how long has it lasted; how much data has it sent; how fast or slow is it; how well or how badly was it subjected to network congestion or errors. Flows also raise questions such as: Is it from hosts we’ve seen before? Is it from unknown sources? Is it malicious?

Imagine looking at any network equipment you can think of and driving value from what’s going through there. Well, imagining is what you’d have to do most of the time. Sure, most network equipment shows the bits in and out, packets in and out, maybe some physical layer errors, some neighbor information, but hardly anything more.

Finding the value
To me, the New IP is about being able to go look at any network device, virtual or physical, and ask, “Hey, who is using this right now? What applications are running? What isn’t working well?” This capability would mean that when a service provider gets a call from a customer (Bill) complaining about his service in New York, we can ask the network questions like, “Show me Bill and his email flows,” or issue commands to terminate all of Bill’s flows if necessary. The value of such a capability would be customer satisfaction and less churn.

Flows are key to the New IP, however, in the past, few devices have been flow-aware — some firewalls, load balancers and devices responsible for terminating or translating flows. The New IP is be about making nearly all network functions intelligent enough to understand information about the flows traversing them: the who, what, where, when and how information.

The New IP will enable unprecedented control, visibility and operational efficiency end-to-end based on a vast amount of information on flows. We will be able to guarantee a rate specifically down to an individual flow and diagnose network issues down to flows from specific users to help solve problems more rapidly than ever before.

More importantly, with the ability to process, track and guarantee services down to the flow level, we will eliminate most of the complaints seen on networks. Being able to manage and control flows so granularly will just be something taken for granted and rarely required to be visible as it prevents issues from arising in the first place, literally by leaving no flow behind.

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What people are saying

First Cagayan Converge Data Center “Fair usage was the biggest requirement for us, but FlowCommand has provided a number of other great benefits in terms of much more advanced and instantaneous visibility, analytics and control. The control of our bandwidth is markedly better across the board. We’ve improved bandwidth utilization by more than 30%, which has translated into a more than $80,000 bandwidth cost savings and delayed capex on upgrades for more than 6 months”

Edgardo Lopez, First Cagayan Converge Data Center, Inc. Chief Technology Officer

Sunway Information Technology “Saisei’s software has paid off in a number of ways. The two gaming operators who threatened to take their business elsewhere have decided to remain our customers. And we’ve been able to eliminate the 5-millisecond latency that can terminate a gaming session and its associated revenue.”

Daniel Soh, Assistant General Manager, Sunway Digital Wave

NHN Entertainment “Saisei’s software is critical for us. It’s helping us provide a high-quality gaming experience to our end users around the globe which is important to increasing customer loyalty and expanding our business. Saisei’s software is unique in its ability to do micro-flow level monitoring without packet capturing. It’s extremely easy to use. We looked at many of the top networking products but they were very costly and complex, and most were hardware based so we couldn’t utilize our unused servers in our data centers.”

Joohwan Kim, NHN Entertainment Infra Operation Team Leader

Fort Bend County Libraries “FlowCommand gives us great visibility and control, and also does an excellent job of augmenting the security on our network because we can see so much more. From the dashboard, we can now immediately see where traffic is coming from – and can really hone in on, for example, the top 25 applications being used and by which users, devices and locations – on a second-by-second basis. We’ve also gained a lot more control by using the software’s host equalization capability, which ensures every user has equal access to our local Wi-Fi networks and gets great applications performance, regardless of how many users are on the network or what applications they are running.”

Raymond Miranda, Network Specialist at Fort Bend County Libraries

network world testimonial “Saisei’s software suite brings order to chaos and makes the network a highly predictable system that can achieve utilisation rates over 95%.”

Zeus Kerravala, Founder and Principal Analyst, ZK Research

light reading testimonial “Using Saisei’s patented flow control technology, FlowCommand manages traffic without queueing, buffering, scheduling, or random packets drops.”

MITCH WAGNER, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading

it world canada testimonial“Vendors that make competing network optimisation solutions like Cisco Systems, Riverbed and Silver Peak have been trying to do something similar but haven’t put the pieces together yet the way Saisei has.”

Howard Solomon, former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada

ema testimonial“The combination of deep visibility plus granular, automated, policy-based control has long been sought as the holy grail of network capacity and performance optimisation.”

Jim Frey, vice president of research, Enterprise Management Associates