Route Analytics is an emerging network monitoring technology specifically developed to analyze the routing protocols and structures in meshed IP Networks. Their main mode of operation is to passively listen to the Layer 3 routing protocol exchanges between routers for the purposes of network discovery, mapping, real-time monitoring and routing diagnostics.
The impetus into the development of Route Analytics technology originated due to the “best effort” nature of IP networks and the lack of visibility into the dynamic nature of routing packets around the network – often referred to as the IP “cloud”. Typical IP networks are comprised of a number of interconnected router operating at two planes; the control plane which determines how the packets are moved along the network and the forwarding plane which is responsible for the actual process of sending the packets. Information is exchanged between network routers using different routing protocols to dynamically determine the best route for packets to take - the most widely deployed protocols include OSPF, IS-IS, EIGRP and BGP.
Route Analytics systems function by establishing a relationship (adjacency) with a single router in a Layer 3 network followed by passive “listening” of the control plane messages being exchanged by the routers. By becoming part of the control plane, route analytics systems effectively act as a passive router, having the same routing intelligence of other network routers but without the ability to forward actual data packets. Though the systems are actively participating in the routing control plane, they cannot affect how data is routed around the network. The systems must also support the various routing protocols to effectively analyze the updates announced by the network routers.
The main advantages of a Route Analytics system are:
- Real-time and accurate discovery of routed networks
- Computation of Layer 3 network routing topology and visualization of primary and redundant paths
- Visibility into current and historical routing information (e.g. LSAs, AS Externals)
- Detection of routing events, failures or protocol anomalies (e.g. route flapping) impacting paths or reachability
The Route Analytics technology is being offered by less than a handful of vendors today who are addressing a growing market niche comprised of larger enterprises and carriers. These vendors include Packet Design, considered the pioneer in the space, Alcatel-Lucent, Solana Networks and Iptivia. Hewlett Packard also offers a licensed version from Packet Design as an integrated option to its HP Network Node Manager.
- O’Donnell, G. (2004). “Route Analytics Enrich Technology Relationships” Meta Group
- Mendel, T. (2004). "Route Analytics Technologies", Forrester Research
- Drogseth, D. (2003). “HP Invests in Route Analytics with Packet Design”, Network World
- "Routing Health Analysis – A Must Have for Managing Converged Networks"Solana Networks
- "IP Route Analytics: A New Foundation for Modern Network Operations"Packet Design