Cisco Tetration wants to monitor your data centre

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Cisco Tetration wants to monitor your data centre

Is operations ready for machine learning?

Cisco is hoping its enterprise customers will deploy huge arrays of sensors in their data centres to better understand their environments, simulate the effect of changes, and “replay” incidents to isolate root causes.

The company this morning unveiled Tetration Analytics, which it said is designed to gather “telemetry from hardware and software sensors, and then analyse the information using advanced machine learning techniques”.

At its core, Tetration is about gaining visibility into application behaviours, traffic flows, and dependencies.

However, it is being heavily promoted as a kind of “time machine” for the data centre.

Cisco said it can be used “to rewind what has happened in the past, view what is happening in the present in real time, and model what could happen".

Customers are asked to place soft sensors on VM and bare metal hosts (running Linux or Windows), or to use hardware sensors embedded in the ASICs of Cisco network switches, or a combination of both.

The data is then fed into a Tetration “analytics platform” – which is effectively a full-rack appliance of pre-wired gear that sits on-premises in the data centre.

The vendor did not outline the costs of the physical system. It also offers consulting services around the analytics stack.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said in a blog post that further iterations of the system would likely be forthcoming based on customer feedback and trials of the first Tetration system.

Gartner research director Michael Warrilow told iTnews investment in infrastructure and operational analytics is growing due to increasing business demands, as well as other factors.

“This is a good sign for Cisco Tetration,” Warrilow said. “However, uptake is being inhibited by a lack of necessary skills and market confusion.”

Warrilow said Cisco’s past record on IT management could pose challenges for Tetration’s traction.

“Cisco has a chequered history in IT management – one that is tightly coupled to its hardware,” he said.

“Tetration Analytics looks no different; buy it all from Cisco and you’ll be fine. In such a case, Cisco customers often ask why the solutions aren’t inherently more manageable.”

Gartner sees Tetration occupying a space in a broader market Gartner calls IT operations analytics (ITOA).

“Gartner’s view is that the potential benefit of IT operations analytics is high but maturity is currently low,” Warrilow said.

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