Announcing Network Intelligence Center—towards proactive network operations

We are very excited to introduce Network Intelligence Center, Google Cloud’s comprehensive network monitoring, verification, and optimization platform across the cloud and on-prem data centers, along with an initial set of modules. 

Organizations are increasingly adopting multi-cloud implementations and hybrid deployments as a part of their cloud strategy, to deliver the best experiences for their customers around the globe. Networks are at the foundation of this digital transformation, and becoming increasingly complex due to the growing heterogeneity in the customer environment. This puts pressure on network operations teams, who live under the presumption that “the network is guilty until proven innocent.” Unfortunately, today’s fragmented networking tools don’t make their lives any easier, leading to a lack of visibility, long troubleshooting times to resolve connectivity and performance issues, configuration errors being discovered too late in production, and no centralized way to holistically understand and remedy network health.

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The vision for intelligent and predictive network operations

Adoption of hybrid and multi-cloud is absolutely critical for organizations to remain agile. However, this underscores the need for intelligent and continuous network operations—the promise that the network is doing what it needs to do, in line with business intent. For example, if you have global operations, you may want to ensure that users in a specific geographical region are being served out of the nearest datacenter at all times. 

To realize this vision, you need proactive network operations that can predict and heal network failures, driven by AI/ML recommendations and remediation. These systems also need to maintain an equilibrium between automation and control, to support customers who are at different points in their journey from reactive towards proactive network operations. 

In the first phase of fulfilling this vision for intelligent network operations, Network Intelligence Center offers four modules: Connectivity Tests and Network Topology, both in beta; Performance Dashboard and Firewall Metrics & Insights in alpha; with several other modules to follow. 

Network Topology: Visualize complex networks with insights 
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is the first cloud provider to provide comprehensive visibility into your global GCP deployment (not just your single VPC) and its interaction with the public internet, including an organization-wide view of the topology, and associated network performance metrics with Network Topology.

Visibility is especially important in cloud to gain trust and confidence since customers do not own the infrastructure. Visualizing cloud topologies is also complicated by the fact that a cloud network is really a mesh, making it hard to understand and navigate the differences between on-premises and cloud environments. Network Topology lets you visualize and navigate your network with structure and insights, simplifying network monitoring and troubleshooting, and helping  you fulfill your compliance requirements.

Further, Network Topology provides useful performance metrics for various nodes and edges, enabling metrics-driven troubleshooting, policy checks, and architecture and capacity optimization. For instance, you can easily visualize how your users are being served worldwide and if they are being served optimally out of their nearest geographical regions. You can quickly search through complex networks and drill down into exactly what matters to you, shrinking troubleshooting time. In the event of a network issue, you can go back in time up to six weeks to track the evolution of the network’s topology, to diagnose issues quickly. 

“Network Intelligence Center has been transformational for us to optimize our network operations. Using Network Intelligence Center we discovered that data transferred to a particular GCE region was significantly higher than expected. By looking at Network Topology we were able to diagnose and fix this issue, and save significant costs," said Rob Lyon, Enterprise Architect at Kochava, a mobile app analytics company. 

“Network Intelligence Center helps us quickly identify and troubleshoot network problems. We’ve gained full situational awareness of our network topology, saving us time on monitoring network health,” said Jason Cradit, Senior Director of Technology at Pivvot, a real-time location data and analytics company.

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 Visualize your network with insights: See metrics for nodes and edges.
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 Egress traffic breakdown from one region (europe-west1 here) to other regions can be used for optimization

Connectivity Tests: Diagnose connectivity issues and predict the impact of configuration changes 
GCP is the first cloud provider to provide a solution based on formal verification techniques that empowers you to diagnose connectivity issues, and proactively verify the impact of configuration changes to prevent outages.

75% of network outages and performance issues result from misconfiguration. More often than not, these misconfigurations are discovered in production. Not knowing the impact of making a configuration change in firewall rules or routing rules makes network monitoring reactive rather than proactive, introducing risk and extending mean time to resolution. 

Network Intelligence Center helps to quickly diagnose connectivity issues and prevent outages by allowing teams to perform on-demand tests with the Connectivity Test module. Connectivity Test enables you to self-diagnose connectivity issues within GCP or GCP to an external IP address which could be on-prem or another cloud, helping to isolate whether the issue is in GCP or not. You can create, save and run tests to help verify the impact of configuration changes and ensure that network intent captured by these tests is not violated, proactively preventing network outages. These tests also help assure network security and compliance. Connectivity Test has been used internally by Google Cloud’s support team to resolve customer issues. 

“We’re excited that with the help of Network Intelligence Center, we’ll be able to verify that our network connectivity matches intent and quickly troubleshoot network configuration issues," said David Breise, Cloud & Network Engineer at HIPAAVault, a secure HIPAA-compliant file-sharing provider.

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Create & save connectivity tests that reflect your intent. Any time you make configuration change, run them to verify  impact.

Speed up cloud migrations

In addition to monitoring, verification, and optimization of the network between on-premises and cloud, Network Intelligence Center can also help accelerate your migration to cloud. With a holistic view into network architecture, health and performance before and after migration, it allows you to plan your cloud migrations efficiently and optimize your architecture. It also helps to identify and debug network issues between on-prem and cloud, and can help you easily track topology changes during migration, as well as view actual traffic flows and performance metrics before and  during the migration. 

Additional modules: Performance Dashboard and Firewall Metrics & Insights

Network Intelligence Center includes two additional modules in alpha: Performance Dashboard and Firewall Metrics & Insights. 

Performance Dashboard provides real-time network performance visibility into packet loss and latency at a per-project level, a compelling capability for network health monitoring at a project level that reflects a user’s network experience, not offered by any other cloud provider today. These metrics provide insights into your network performance, showing VM-to-VM packet loss and latency data aggregated across zones. In the case of an application performance issue, Performance Dashboard helps the network team quickly determine whether the issue is with the network or with the application. Fill out this form to sign up as an alpha customer for Performance Dashboard. 

Firewall Metrics & Insights provides visibility into firewall rules usage, helping you optimize firewall rules by revealing insights into shadowed firewall rules. You can access this capability today from the firewall rules page in alpha, and it will be integrated into Network Intelligence Center when it reaches beta. Fill out this form to sign up as an alpha customer for Firewall Metrics & Insights. 

Moving from reactive to proactive network operations

As you build more and more applications on a Google Cloud foundation, you need a network operations solution that lets you easily visualize complex, cloud-based topologies, helps you proactively identify and troubleshoot problems, and assists you in making good decisions when running at global scale. We are excited to see you use Network Intelligence Center to adopt a more proactive approach to monitoring network health and to predict, diagnose and verify your network quickly. Stay tuned for new Networking Intelligence Center modules as well as blogs that dive deep into Connectivity Test and Network Topology. Meanwhile, give Connectivity Test and Network Topology a try in the Google Cloud Console. Also, visit our website to learn more about networking and take a tour of Cloud City. And as always, reach out to the Google Cloud Networking team with your questions and feedback.

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