Enterprises have embraced cloud-based services over the last decade with no signs of slowing down. Cloud computing allows organizations to run their high-traffic, high-performance applications on shared low-cost IT infrastructure, taking advantage of server virtualization, low-latency networks, and the scalability of today’s data centers. This helps enterprises improve their operational efficiency and increase business agility while keeping costs down.

While there has been ample focus on monitoring and managing cloud applications, systems, storage, and security, most enterprises don’t monitor IP routing to the cloud. That leaves them susceptible to cloud connectivity issues, leaving them at risk of severe interruptions in their business.

Why monitor IP routing to the cloud?

Because cloud applications reside outside the actual enterprise premises, IP routing between the enterprise and the cloud infrastructure over public IP networks is essential.

To ensure high availability, enterprises have redundant links between the different nodes in their networks and to their multiple service providers. This creates numerous paths between one node to another, either within the network or outside. But the dynamic nature of IP routing—where routing paths are automatically chosen in milliseconds based on the present state of the network—makes it extremely difficult for network engineers to understand what is happening in the network.

Things get even more complex when traffic exits the enterprise network and traverses the Internet. With Internet routing, traffic can pass through different autonomous systems, thousands of network addresses, and myriad paths before it reaches its destination. Here, numerous factors—such as changes in routing paths, BGP peering failure, route leaks, and more—can result in slow application response or even complete data loss.

Despite the complexities of IP routing behavior, network engineers need to be able to understand it to troubleshoot and resolve application delivery issues quickly. (Learn more about the importance of monitoring IP routing in our blog here.)

Limitations of traditional network monitoring tools

Most enterprise networks are highly dependent on SNMP for network performance monitoring. Network management tools that leverage SNMP are designed to poll network devices at set intervals and gather information on device health, up/down status, CPU and memory utilization, packet drops, traffic information, and more. But SNMP-based tools that poll every few minutes are not capable of capturing IP routing changes that can occur within milliseconds anywhere in the network or result in a high volume of network overhead.

Traditional tools also fall short when it comes to planning network changes. A majority of enterprise network change management tools are only focused on ensuring correct syntax or comparing configurations. They’re not able to understand the impact of a network change before the actual change has been made. In the world of IP routing, it’s possible to make the ‘right’ configuration changes on a device but still end up with ‘wrong’ routing behavior in the network.

Monitoring IP routing to the cloud with route analytics

Route analytics technology listens to BGP and IGP route advertisements exchanged between routers to build an always-up-to-date network topology map. The information in the routing updates also helps determine how traffic is being routed over the network in real-time, even when the routing path changes within milliseconds. Additionally, route analytics allow the routing information captured to be stored. It can then be ‘rewound and played back’ by network engineers to understand how routing paths changed in the past, as shown in the screenshot below.

This information helps engineers understand:

  • If subnets hosting the cloud apps were reachable at all times
  • If paths between the data center and the enterprise were up
  • How traffic is being routed, and whether it’s traversing high-latency links
  • If redundant paths exist to the cloud network

This way, service providers can quickly troubleshoot reachability issues, to sure their enterprise customers service level agreements (SLAs) are being met.

The Blue Planet Route Optimization and Analytics (ROA) software combines advanced route analytics with traffic flow data to help network engineers plan for network changes. By using these route analytics capabilities as a network planning tool, network engineers can understand if the existing network can handle additional bandwidth load from cloud applications, if any congestion will occur, and the impact of a planned change on overall network performance.