Saturday, April 2, 2016

Internet Exchange (IX) Metrics

IX Metrics has been released on GitHub, The application provides real-time monitoring of traffic between members in an Internet Exchange (IX).

Close monitoring of exchange traffic is critical to operations:
  1. Ensure that there is sufficient capacity to accommodate new and existing members.
  2. Ensure that all traffic sources are accounted for and that there are no unauthorized connections.
  3. Ensure that only allowed traffic types are present.
  4. Ensure that non-unicast traffic is strictly controlled.
  5. Ensure that packet size policies are controlled to avoid loss due to MTU mismatches.
IX Metrics imports information about exchange members using the IX Member List JSON Schema. The member information is used to create traffic analytics and traffic is checked against the schema to identify errors, for example, if a member is using a MAC address that isn't listed.

The measurements from the exchange infrastructure are useful to members since it allows them to easily see how much traffic they are exchanging with other members through their peering relationships. This information is easy to collect using the exchange infrastructure, but much harder for members to determine independently.

The sFlow standard has long been a popular method of monitoring exchanges for a number of reasons:
  1. sFlow instrumentation is built into high capacity data center switches used in exchanges.
  2. Exchanges handle large amounts of traffic, many Terabits/second in large exchanges and sFlow instrumentation has the scaleability to monitor the entire infrastructure.
  3. Exchanges typically operate at layer 2 (i.e. traffic is switched, not routed between members) and sFlow provides detailed visibility into layer two traffic, including: packet sizes, Ethernet protocols, MAC addresses, VLANs, etc.
Leveraging the real-time analytics capabilities of sFlow-RT allows the IX Metrics application to provide up to the second visibility into exchange traffic. The IX Metrics application can also export metrics to InfluxDB to support operations and member facing dashboards (built using Grafana for example).  In addition, export of notification using syslog supports integration with Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools like Logstash.

IX Metrics is open source software that can easily be modified to integrate with other tools and additional applications can be installed on the sFlow-RT platform alongside the IX Metrics application, for example:

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