Now Available: vRealize Network Insight 6.5

While we’re slowly getting used to 2022, it’s already time for another vRealize Network Insight and vRealize Network Insight Cloud release! This release is a big one, packed with some major features and a ton of smaller ones. I’ve cherry-picked a few for you below. Let’s dive into the details!

Guided Network Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting network issues has always been a labor of love (or hate). Someone comes up to you with the statement that “the network is broken.” After asking a bit further, it turns out a VM is having intermittent connectivity issues. You start looking at the VMs network topology and the surrounding network devices, checking metrics, logs, and configuration. After a few hours (or days, depending on the complexity of the network) and checking many of your network devices, you figure out a router is having congestion that is affecting the VM traffic. How can we make this easier and quicker? Well…

Figure 1: A Guided Network Troubleshooting Session.
Figure 1: A Guided Network Troubleshooting Session.

Affectionally known as GNT, Guided Network Troubleshooting is true to its name. Simply put, GNT is a tool within vRealize Network Insight Cloud that guides you in the troubleshooting process of an application, VM, an alert, and many other entities. Start a troubleshooting session centered on the entity that’s having an issue and GNT creates a relationship graph that contains all the surrounding devices. It then checks for anomalies in each and every of those surrounding devices, automagically.

In the screenshot above (Figure 1), the VM hive-server is the center of a troubleshooting session and GNT is highlighting issues that you can drill down into. In this example, the host is experiencing congestion, which is affecting the VM, its flows, and the NSX-T Edges it’s connected to.

When you start a troubleshooting session for a VM, GNT checks the flows of that VM, the host it’s running on, and things like the NSX-T Edges and the top of rack switch ports it’s connected to. By running Machine Learning algorithms on every metric we have, anomalies are detected and highlighted.

Guided Network Troubleshooting deserves a dedicated deep dive, which will arrive on this blog soon. Stay tuned!

Cisco ACI in Network Assurance and Verification

With vRealize Network Insight 6.0, we launched the Network Assurance and Verification capabilities, which help proactively monitor the network using intent-based networking. For example, you can define that two applications, VMs, or networks, should always be able to reach each other via the network. vRealize Network Insight raises alerts when something (configurational or operational) changes in the network that prevents that reachability. Continuously verifying the network, instead of reactively responding to incidents.

We are excited to introduce Cisco ACI into the Network Assurance and Verification capabilities. This means that the Cisco ACI network fabric is considered with the intent-based verification process, making sure it’s configured correctly, and it will show up in the Network Map:

Figure 2: Cisco ACI in the Network Map and interface details of a leaf switch
Figure 2: Cisco ACI in the Network Map and interface details of a leaf switch

If you’re already using vRealize Network Insight, you know that the Network Map is an up-to-date topology diagram of the network. It’s based on device and link discovery and time-stamped, meaning you can go back in time to see how the topology was configured last week or month.

This is an extension of the Cisco ACI support to include it in the Network Assurance and Verification capabilities. The existing features of the Cisco ACI data source remain the same. The best part is, that if you already have ACI in your vRealize Network Insight instance as a data source and you have an Enterprise or NAV license, it will automatically start including ACI into the Network Map and the Intents.

NSX Advanced Load Balancer (Avi)

Talking about extending visibility: another big addition is the support for the VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer! Conquering the Application Delivery space, the NSX Advanced Load Balancer (ALB, the artist previously known as Avi) is perfect for elastic and automated application delivery across clouds. Adding an NSX ALB Controller as a data source to vRealize Network Insight places the application delivery components into the context of the entire network.

You’ll get dashboards of all the ALB components: Clouds, Clusters, Tenants, Controllers, Pools, Service Engines, Virtual Services. The entire inventory and operational status are available in those dashboards. Keeping in tradition, vRealize Network Insight places the ALB into the full network context. That means you can trace network paths that go through the ALB:

Figure 3: Tracing topology paths through the NSX Advanced Load Balancer
Figure 3: Tracing topology paths through the NSX Advanced Load Balancer

Above is an example of a path from a VM to the ALB Service Engine (SE). vRealize Network Insight determines what is connected to what figures out which ALB SE is connected to the VM, which SE is primary, and which is secondary, and then draws out the path step by step.

Of course, all alerts from the NSX ALB also come into vRealize Network Insight, which then can be correlated between multiple data sources. Full and contextual visibility.

Databus Extensions

A couple of months ago, we introduced the Databus feature in 6.4. The Databus is a way to export large amounts of data from vRealize Network Insight, as it comes in. It’s essentially a webhook that is called with the data that vRealize Network Insight has collected from the network. The target is an HTTP(s) endpoint where you can process the incoming data and do anything with it.

This release brings the Databus to vRealize Network Insight Cloud, and it adds a ton of new message types. Here’s an overview:

  • [new] Flow Metadata: New flows, or existing flows that are refreshed
  • [new] Inventory: Configuration changes of VMs, Hosts, Switch ports, and vNICs
  • [new] Metrics: Detailed metrics (packets and bytes per second, CPU usage, and more) of Flows, VMs, Hosts, and Switch Ports.
  • [existing] Alerts & Application changes

With these new message types, you can archive flow logs, dynamically update CMDBs, import the network metrics for VMs, Hosts, and Switch Ports to your own graphing engine, and a lot more. The sky is the limit.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Databus possibilities, check out this video that shows a demo, and check out this blog post about integrating the Databus with the VMware Event Broker Appliance to realize event-based automation.

Other Gems

  • FIPS 140-2 support
  • CheckPoint Firewall support in the Network Assurance and Verification capabilities (same as Cisco ACI)
  • Oracle Cloud VMware Solution (OCVS) support
  • Adding a banner to the login page
  • Push Notifications as a new option for alerts. Get incoming alerts without refreshing your browser

Conclusion

vRealize Network Insight 6.5 is packed with features that extend the visibility into more of your network with support for Cisco ACI, the NSX Advanced Load Balancer, and OCVS. And Guided Network Troubleshooting is the premier way to troubleshoot any networking issue.

The on-premises vRealize Network Insight version 6.5 is available for download and vRealize Network Insight Cloud will be updated to 6.5 in the next few weeks.

If you’d like to read the full release notes (with even more goodies!), here they are. Download the bits here.

Try vRealize Network Insight Cloud

Did you know you can try vRealize Network Insight for 30 days for *free*? No commitment is needed, check out the 30-Day Free Trial!

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