Rapid, Granular, Global Network Management

By Dennis Barker

November 10, 2008

On his quest to find the golden city of Timbuktu, explorer Alexander Gordon Laing would dispatch a trusty messenger to carry updates back to his sponsors in Tripoli. Laing wouldn’t know for months if the messenger made it, if he ever knew at all. That was a typical problem with 19th-century information “technology.”

Today, people who live and die by network and application performance worry about information lag, too — and for good reason. According to a survey by Infonetics Research, outages and slow-downs cause midsize companies to experience about 140 hours of downtime every year, to the tune of about $800,000 annually. Focusing on the source of application outages could save many organizations “a significant amount of money,” Infonetics analysts conclude.

There is no lack of vendors offering ways to monitor network performance, but SevOne does a few things that might make it stand out. The company launched in 2005 to develop network- and application-performance technology that would be real-time responsive, but inexpensive and easy to use compared to legacy products. The technology is targeted at people who need to see exactly what’s going on and when, way out across their network empire, remote outposts and all.

“We developed a distributed, peer-to-peer architecture for network management that allows our customers to capture the data they need to respond to specific performance issues,” says SevOne CEO Michael Phelan. “Our design criteria were to make something very scalable, that could accommodate change very quickly, and was much faster than other tools. Being able to scale to cover every application, every device, in a cost-effective and meaningful way are a few of the things that we think make us unique.”

Its software and two types of appliances embody the company’s technology. The Performance Appliance Solution (PAS) is the standard device, incorporating SNMP and NetFlow monitoring, alerting, and sub-minute polling. There are five PAS models, capable of watching from 5,000 to 65,000 network elements. The Dedicated Network Flow Collector (DNC) appliance exists specifically for large NetFlow-based deployments. SevOne’s hardware/software package installs in a datacenter “as near to end-users as possible to collect traffic data and allow operators to immediately pinpoint problems anywhere and avoid developing slowdowns,” Phelan says.

“Each one of our appliances is both a data collector and a reporter,” he explains. “They can work stand-alone, or be joined with others using our P2P architecture. Essentially, they operate as a distributed environment, processing volumes of data that gets pushed out. You request a report or an operation. One appliance could be in Boston, one in New York, one in Chicago, and they all work together. It’s a lot like a grid computer. All the systems share a database that lets them know which peer has the information needed to originate a report. You can log into any of the peered appliances to get a report on any indicator.” SevOne supports all the usual application and network monitoring standards. If, for example, a spike is identified using SNMP, an analyst can drill down further using NetFlow.

SevOne set out to design a system that can scale not just in terms of network size but that also can expand to handle new devices and new applications quickly. “Our company founders have a background in the banking industry, where consolidation has resulted in organizations having two of everything, lots of legacy tools, management tools from all kinds of vendors,” says Phelan. “They’re asked to handle different types of applications, like video and VoIP, and different types of devices. There’s frustration trying to keep pace with these changes.”

As new routers, switches, access points and so on are added to a network, PAS can either discover them automatically or they can be added using an API. “In a health care situation, you might add a new scanner to the network,” Phelan says. “We can have it logged in and be monitoring its performance sometimes in minutes, perhaps a couple days at most.”

In an increasingly on-demand real-time world, though, it’s not only what you can monitor, but how often. “A lot of bad things can happen in under a minute,” Phelan says. “Our technology can monitor the most critical components, including your server CPUs all the way to up-links, at whatever frequency your … service level agreements require. If performance requirements aren’t going to be met, our appliance can issue an alert. Critical links need to be monitored at sub-minute frequencies, and our system will let you do that. Our customers in financial trading need to monitor things down to the second.”

He continues, touting the distributed nature of the solution: “The system has to be able to react. Bad things happen quickly. You can’t wait for reports to generate. With our appliances stationed across the network, we’re using processors across that distributed grid to create large reports that have millions of indicators in seconds. People think we’re using a canned graphic when we produce a graph that charts utilization over 24 hours and it takes a tenth of a second. We have all these cores working together to collect data and generate a report.”

SevOne’s system also yields a more accurate audit trail, providing historical data that lets customers demonstrate performance transparency, “to show then they had bandwidth, they had the switches in place, down to the individual device,” Phelan says. “Legacy solutions average out or roll up the old data. Days might show up as a single data point. A five-second spike would be completely flattened out using those tools. With our reporting capabilities, you can pinpoint any time to the level of granularity you need, which is important because a five-second spike can cause a serious disruption to a financial transaction or a VoIP application.” Each SevOne appliance can store about a year’s worth of detailed data, the company says.

One SevOne user, Aramark, suffered a spike that slowed the order processing system down to 5 percent of its usual speed. “The IT director was able to look at the screen, see the SNMP spike, take the cursor, highlight the spike, and with a few clicks determined that all the traffic was related to people going online for election coverage,” Phelan says. “We provide that overall visibility from one screen, one pane of glass. You don’t have to open another application, and can resolve down to individual IP addresses to see who is using what infrastructure.”

The Cable’s Out?!?!!!

There might be no provider as familiar with angry customer service calls as the cable company. To keep those calls to a minimum, broadband operator Comcast looked for a tool giving it better insight into all the components in its infrastructure. Comcast’s IT managers also wanted a system that could provide that insight on a continual basis, not just intermittently. Comcast chose SevOne because its tools gave Comcast the granularity and the rapid data retrieval needed to make sure service levels remain intact, Phelan says.

“One of the biggest problems our customers are facing is they need real-time monitoring,” says Vess Bakalov, SevOne’s chief technology officer (and former network architect at BankOne). “We use high-speed algorithms in our system to provide real-time performance management. Using our analysis tools and reports, Comcast is able to have the kind of performance transparency they need.”

Comcast’s Jeff Gill, senior director for network surveillance, confirms that SevOne’s system delivers the data his team needs in “two to five seconds,” whereas Comcast’s legacy system “would take three to four hours.”

Using SevOne’s application, “we can literally bring up a device in a particular region, state, or area of the network and get an all-around status of the device, from performance trends, history, current alerts and anything else happening that has some significance to the problem,” Gill says.

“One reason we displaced their incumbent solution,” Bakalov says, “is our scalability. We’re managing more than 10 billion nodes for Comcast. Our P2P architecture is unique. Some competitors might match us in terms of functionality, but we focus on the entire enterprise, and we don’t think anyone can match us in terms of volume.”

Other customers include NYU, SUNY Stony Brook, HBO, Cincinnati Bell, JP Morgan Chase, Thomson Financial and Credit Suisse.

SevOne says it competes with the likes of Concord/CA, NetIQ, InfoVista, HP and IBM, but Phelan says none of them provide the combination of real-time monitoring, speed of reporting, flexibility of polling frequency, easy interface, or scalability that its technology and appliance offer.

“The very distributed architecture, and the ability to deliver second-by-second performance views at a very low price point” distinguish SevOne, says Richard L. Ptak, analyst with Ptak, Noel & Associates. “They are very cost effective with near-real-time reporting. There are relatively few appliance-based management solutions in this space.” Ptak says SevOne is “definitely an emerging company with a product that addresses a compelling pain point.”

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s existing 20-quibit platform into a more robust, self-contain Read more…

By John Russell

Intel at CES: Nervana; 10nm Server CPU; Cascade Lake

January 9, 2019

On the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Intel staged a launch event that covered a new version of its Nervana AI processor and a demonstration of the next-generation Xeon 10nm chip. The Read more…

By Staff

IBM’s New Global Weather Forecasting System Runs on GPUs

January 9, 2019

Anyone who has checked a forecast to decide whether or not to pack an umbrella knows that weather prediction can be a mercurial endeavor. It is a Herculean task: the constant modeling of incredibly complex systems to a high degree of accuracy at a local level within very short spans of time. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Systems With Intel Omni-Path: Architected for Value and Accessible High-Performance Computing

Today’s high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) users value high performing clusters. And the higher the performance that their system can deliver, the better. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Data: The Key To Unlocking Modern Research

Research tackles the big questions, delving into uncharted territory in pursuit of knowledge that could change the world. Today’s research simulations are generating more data than ever before, a trend that shows no signs of slowing. Read more…

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” This maxim Read more…

By Ben Criger

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM’s New Global Weather Forecasting System Runs on GPUs

January 9, 2019

Anyone who has checked a forecast to decide whether or not to pack an umbrella knows that weather prediction can be a mercurial endeavor. It is a Herculean task: the constant modeling of incredibly complex systems to a high degree of accuracy at a local level within very short spans of time. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

HPCwire Awards Highlight Supercomputing Achievements in the Sciences

January 3, 2019

In November at SC18 in Dallas, HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice awards program commemorated its 15th year of honoring achievement in HPC, with categories ranging from Best Use of AI to the Workforce Diversity Leadership Award and recipients across a wide variety of industrial and research sectors. Read more…

By the Editorial Team

White House Top Science Post Filled After Two-Year Vacancy

January 3, 2019

Half-way into Trump's term, the Senate has confirmed a director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the agency that coordinates science poli Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Batswana Gems

December 20, 2018

Most who work in the high-performance computing (HPC) industry agree; people problems are far more complicated than technical challenges. As I wrote in a 2015 HPCwire feature titled, “Women in HPC: Revelations and Reckoning,” diversity, or the lack thereof, is the HPC industry’s current grand challenge. Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Sets Up for Epyc Epoch

November 16, 2018

It’s been a good two weeks, AMD’s Gary Silcott and Andy Parma told me on the last day of SC18 in Dallas at the restaurant where we met to discuss their show news and recent successes. Heck, it’s been a good year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, product photos, and even a beautiful image of supernovae... Read more…

By John Russell

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Confirms 48-Core Cascade Lake-AP for 2019

November 4, 2018

As part of the run-up to SC18, taking place in Dallas next week (Nov. 11-16), Intel is doling out info on its next-gen Cascade Lake family of Xeon processors, specifically the “Advanced Processor” version (Cascade Lake-AP), architected for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and infrastructure-as-a-service workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This