Netsight

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Group Manager

Janet Netsight is a network information system showing the current and past performance of the Janet network:

  • the Janet backbone and its links to the rest of the Internet (the peerings)
  • the links into the regional networks
  • the links to all Janet customers

The system is principally available to Janet connected organisations and the operators of regional networks, monitoring some 1200 connections for 850 users. Indications of the status of some network connections can be viewed by non-logged in users, and as such is publically available.

The system is available here: http://netsight.ja.net

This is the page describing the continuing development of Netsight. For details of the current production service please click here. Additionally, a short introduction to Netsight can be found here.

Second Generation Netsight

This section provides a history of the project, outlines the advantages of the current Netsight, and briefly discusses future developments.

Project History

The original Netsight first appeared in 2001 with the current, second generation system, deployed during 2008-09. The initial release of the current system offers improved versions of the original Netsight functionality, while being extensible to allow the addition of further measurement types.

The current system was developed largely in response to the high-level SuperJANET5 requirement to improve 'visibility' of Janet performance data.

The Janet Performance Measurement Overview published in January 2005 lead to a performance measurement trial, documented by its final report published in July 2006. Summary recommendations from the trial were:

  • development of a replacement Netsight to publish finer grained measurements
  • use of a central database of performance data
  • consideration of adding extra measurement types

In January 2007, two further documents were published to kickstart procurement of a new Netsight: the Janet Measurement System Outline and the Statement of Requirements.

An external software house, Tessella, were appointed through a Catalist procurement to undertake a detailed Requirements Analysis and system design, and to subsequently build the new Janet Netsight architecture. The Requirements' Analysis was completed in April 2007 with contracts signed in May 2007. A phased rollout of the current system began in July 2008 and was completed the following year.

Current System Advantages

The original Netsight was a popular and well used tool. However, some aspects of the system made it unsuitable for the wider monitoring role now required of Netsight, particularly in respect of meeting the high-level SuperJANET5 requirement to improve 'visibility' of Janet performance data.

  1. Data collection consisted of polling routers via SNMP for traffic data, and running ICMP ping tests to measure ping availability and latency. No other data was available.
  2. The system was based on regionally deployed test nodes, which only stored performance data for their home region. Thus, if a user required access to data for x regions they needed to access x Netsight nodes.
  3. The original Netsight made extensive use of RRDTool. While an excellent tool for some applications of network monitoring it was not suitable for Netsight's new, wider monitoring role:
    • RRDTool is commonly used to support extractration of many contiguous data points for graphing, but is perhaps not well suited to complex data analysis.
    • To stay within a finite amount of storage space, RRDTool by design aggregates (averages) data. In the case of each customer connection, the original Netsight aggregated traffic data after 96 days to just two values per day: an average for the day and the maximum value observed that day. Any interesting behaviour exhibited on those connections was thus lost after 96 days

The current Netsight is based on a more centralised model, built around a central, relational database and a set of three data collectors located within the Janet core.

The main benefits of the current Netsight were achieved through migration to the central, relational database. This makes all data available from one place, provides support for complex analysis of the data, and removes the need for aggregation (with the subsequent loss of granularity) of older data.

Locating the data collectors within the Janet core provides more representative ping data, as ping probes traverse more of the path taken by packets heading to and from the Internet, rather than staying local to a regional network and avoiding any affects of sharing the Janet core with other traffic.

There are several other advantages, including:

  • all data available from a single user interface
  • resilience of data collectors and user interface
  • support for IPv6
  • flexible management of user permissions, allowing fine grained control of the operations users can perform and the data they can access.
  • the ability to provide users with continuity of their data as their connection changes over time using a new 'Reporting Path’ construct which can point to different datasets for different time periods
  • new graphing functionality which allows users to zoom-in on areas of interest and go back in time rto review past performance
  • the option to associated comments with particular connections for particular time periods, e.g. to explain past outages
  • a more secure login now that wireless networks are becoming ubiquitous

Crucially, the current Netsight was designed to be extensible, allowing the future collection of additional measurement types.

Future Development

The initial release of the second generation Netsight offers improved versions of existing functionality, whilst being extensible to allow the addition of additional measurement types.

Further development of Netsight will initially focus on user interface and performance improvements and trialling the use of additional measurement types. As an example, Janet have previously used the IP-SLA functionality of distributed routers to create a small network of dedicated test nodes. IP-SLA is capable of providing measurement types not previously available from Netsight, including jitter. Janet will deploy a test network of IP-SLA nodes at various points across JANET, accepting tests from ‘master’ nodes in the Janet core.

Netsight® is a Registered Trademark of the JNT Association.

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