Gain Deeper Insights into your Cisco SD-WAN Deployments with NWPI

Gain Deeper Insights into your Cisco SD-WAN Deployments with NWPI

Imagine that you have built a house and put time, money, and effort into it for a long time. You are happy that the house was completed to your satisfaction on time and that you and your family moved in as planned. Living in your own home has never been so enjoyable and things will be great. A few months later, you find out that there is a water leak in your basement and there is tension among family members to fix it. You’re not a plumber, or a contractor, and you don’t know the internal details of the plumbing, the layout of the walls, or how your architect designed the house. what do you do You have to hire an expert to first identify the source of the leak, and then spend time and money to fix it—and while you wait for the repairs you have to live with the water continuing to leak.

But what if you could have a centralized dashboard where you put the location of the seepage, it gives you all the information on the source of the leakage, why and how it is caused, if there are any issues with the architectural design, construction, etc. and a possible solution how to fix it? Like any professional architect who helps you find the root cause and faults, IT organizations can gain enormous value from identifying network issues in their SD-WAN network before there is any impact on users.

Introducing Network-Wide Path Insights

Network-Wide Path Insights (NWPI) is a tool natively built into Cisco vManage that helps you find the source of network issues that users face from time to time while accessing their applications that reside on -prem or in the cloud. NWPI provides greater visibility and deeper insights into your SD-WAN deployment. It helps enterprises and managed service providers (MSPs) ensure that their network is working efficiently at all times.

NWPI provides comprehensive analysis of network traffic flows with information on applications accessed by users, classification of business critical flows, monitoring and reporting of network interruptions, troubleshooting tips, and graphical in-depth insights into flow tests.

Network-Wide Path Insights Dashboard
Figure 1: Network-Wide Path Insights dashboard

NWPI provides visual representations of how a packet traverses the network, along with the routing rules made as the packet enters and exits the router device. It provides visibility and insights at the packet, application, flow, and network levels with detailed insights such as network jitter, loss, and latency. It can help your IT teams with performance analysis, network planning, and troubleshooting. For example, NWPI can provide the best path recommendation for an application. For example, Webex voice traffic is better off using the internet as the transport route to reach the destination as opposed to taking a private MPLS link route.

NWPI monitoring and analysis can be done by triggering a trace for a given range of IP addresses and site IDs on the NWPI UI screen in vManage as shown below in Figure 2:

NWPI trace creation within Cisco vManage
Figure 2: NWPI trace creation within Cisco vManage

When a trace starts, NWPI will program the router at each site to start collecting flow insight data with specified filters. Your NetOps team can monitor flow for a specific site ID, a specific VPN, or a specific source and destination IP address. To adapt and deploy policy for interested applications and domains, the DNS Domain discovery knob can be turned on to make effective design decisions before deploying newer sites.

During the trace, NWPI continuously monitors traffic entering and exiting the router device based on the filters defined. The device sends the trace collected as metadata to the vManage console at regular intervals. vManage correlates data received from multiple routers and data sources for further analysis and reporting. There is little impact on routers when a trace starts because all operations are done in hardware. The trace collected helps you gain deeper insights into the flows traversing the device or network.

Integrating NWPI with Cisco ThousandEyes

NWPI can be integrated with Cisco ThousandEyes (TE) to gain visibility and insight into geographically isolated WAN networks and ISPs. The tool can drill down from TE tests to synthetic flows and display a readout of packets dropped due to any network congestion.

Network-Wide Path Insights with Cisco ThousandEyes
Figure 3: Network-Wide Path Insights in Cisco ThousandEyes

In summary, NWPI is an invaluable tool built into the vManage GUI to help your IT organization gain deeper insights and more proactively manage your SD-WAN deployment.

Learn more about NWPI

Additional Resources:

NWPI demo video

Cisco SD-WAN Review

Cisco SD-WAN