Hasn’t every technology sector explained how the inimitable Moore’s Law has impacted it?  Well, I don’t recall ever seeing Moore’s Law referenced in Network Management, but here goes...

Over the years, there have been numerous technologies implemented in network devices - layer 3 devices in particular, like routers – built expressly for the purpose of improving visibility and monitoring of the network.  The two most obvious examples are NetFlow and IP SLA (formerly SAA), both Cisco technologies, introduced more than a decade ago.   Why are these technologies just now becoming table stakes for network management?  It’s because when they were introduced, they put such a toll on the router processor, that they negatively impacted routing performance, and that was a non-starter for most network engineers.

When I spent time at Cisco in the 1990s, router configurations that disabled certain features, reduced conflicting or redundant parameters, and thus resulted in the fastest router performance were hotly traded commodities – passed from engineer to engineer.  And management “features” that hurt performance were the first to go.  No NetFlow, no IP SLA.  Those were the rules. 

Today, router technology has progressed so far that you could favorably argue that they shouldn't even be called routers anymore.  It’s all about the extra features.  Why is that?  Because, router processors have continued to improve in performance according to Moore’s Law – doubling roughly every 2 years.  Today, you can turn on NetFlow exporting, and create a number of IP SLA tests in an edge router, and have essentially negligible performance impact on the routing performance (of course, there are exceptions to this, still, but I’m generalizing). 

Take a look at Cisco’s new ISR G2, which launched yesterday.  The new devices make significant improvements on performance and operational efficiency, by dividing key functions like routing onto one core of the CPU and ancillary functions, like IP SLA and NetFlow, onto the other core (or in some cases onto a separate physical processor altogether). 
Our Head Geek, Josh Stephens, recently did a great Q&A with Brad Reese over at Network World on IP SLA adoption and addressed the concerns around performance impact … more here.

So, there’s really no reason not to leverage these technologies in network management.  Let’s all take a moment to thank good ole’ Moore’s Law for taking a turn with Network Management.

Related SolarWinds Products:
Orion Netflow Traffic Analyzer (NTA)
Orion IP SLA Manager

And, if you want to read another perspective on Moore's Law and Cisco IOS, check this out.