Sunday, February 1, 2009

Packet Design Offers Management Tool for Outsourced MPLS VPNs

Packet Design introduced a network management product that lets enterprises monitor their outsourced MPLS VPNs to determine whether service providers have set them up correctly and if information is moving as intended between corporate sites. The MPLS WAN Explorer cam identify changes in network "reachability" (the ability of IP traffic to move between any two sites at a given time) and verify that the service provider has deployed the MPLS VPN routing architecture according to enterprise policy (e.g., hub-and-spoke, full mesh, etc.). Enterprise IT managers, who previously had no visibility into the routing of traffic over the service provider's network, gain crucial information on issues that can significantly impact service delivery.

MPLS WAN Explorer is an enhanced version of Packet Design's original Route Explorer which provides organizations with end-to-end visibility into their layer 3 (routing) topology. Like Route Explorer, MPLS WAN Explorer listens passively to routing protocol (BGP, OSPF, EIGRP, IS-IS) exchanges, creating an accurate, real-time, network-wide routing map that reveals clearly how each site is connected to the VPN(s) and whether any given site can talk to any other. Real-time inter-site reachability is compared against an established baseline, helping identify possible problems.

Packet Design said that its MPLS WAN Explorer helps network managers quickly find problems such as 1) loss of reachability to critical servers even though all sites are connected, 2) a service provider's failure to adhere to the customer's requested topology, 3) loss of redundancy because a primary VPN has gone down and traffic is being routed over a secondary VPN, and 4) route "leakage" among service provider customers, with the resulting compromised privacy. These issues, while they may not display immediate symptoms, can negatively affect network behavior and service delivery -- and are typically undetectable by conventional management tools.

"VPN topologies are highly complex," said Jeff Raice, Packet Design's executive vice president of marketing and business development. "A large enterprise may use several service providers, each providing multiple VPNs. Corporate policy may dictate that certain sites talk only to certain providers or VPNs, and some VPNs may be implemented across multiple providers. Until now, the enterprise's view of its WAN stopped where the provider's network started. The IT manager had no way of knowing if one site was reachable from another, or of determining whether a WAN service problem originated with the provider or the enterprise itself. Guesswork delayed effective troubleshooting, while operating costs shot up and users suffered.

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