20 Replies Latest reply on Apr 21, 2012 3:41 PM by rkeyes1

    Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network

    bshopp

      Wanted to pick the brains of the community on the subject of MPLS and how do you use Orion.

      Are you a provider of MPLS or a Consumer?

      If you are a consumer, what challenges do you face in ensuring your traffic is getting there based on the set priority?

      If you are a consumer, do you only have specific traffic like voice going across MPLS?  If not, what else?

      As a consumer, is there anything specific to MPLS that you are interested in monitoring?

      Same question for providers.  What challenges do you face or problems you are trying to solve in monitoring it with Orion?  Monitoring multiple VRF's with duplicate IP space? 

        • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
          William_Powley

          We are a consumer of an MPLS network through Time Warner.  Are we aloud to use names?  Previously we had our MPLS through another big vendor that deals with a ton of media (again, names okay?), but Quality of Service through their network was ... umm...troublesome to keep this kid friendly.

          One of the main challenges we faced was getting our marked packets through the cloud while still maintaining their markings.  Every time the old provider attempted to get this configured on their equipment, they would crash the network.  Now, I've had numerous conversations with them since, and in their defense they WERE dealing with growing pains from numerous acquisitions, and their equipment was severely outdated.  But, those are real problems that you face when trying to prioritize packets across a provider network, right?  Worst case perhaps.

          Now that we've switched, and have been working with a provider that understands QoS, provides detailed information of what they expect from us in the way of packet markings, and is capable of implementing these settings on their own equipment, we are good to go.  One thing I would recommend when starting this process, is to ask your provider IF they support QoS, and then ask for their documentation on what and how they support it.  Then, when looking through it if you have any questions, get one of their engineers on the phone to clarify what they are saying to make sure you are all speaking the same language.  I've been administering QoS on our routers for 4 years, and I still found a language barrier between the ISP's terminology and my own "Cisco" speak.  That is key for sure.

          We were originally just throwing our voice packets out there over our T-1's through a Strict Priority Queue (EF) for any packets Outbound from our routers onto the ISP's network.  On T-1's this was great because the next hop was our other office router.  That router did the same back to the other site. 

          When we switched to MPLS (lets go with new provider to save time), we kept the same voice settings just to keep the packets prioritized, although we realized that they were only headed out to the cloud with that high and might EF feeling, but being ignored by the ISP (how rude!).  But eventually I followed the above procedure in determining what I was working with in the way of ISP provided QoS (by the way, there is usually a fee associated with this service), and got the ball rollilng. 

          At this time, we are prioritizing our Voice, Video, Accounting Software Term Traffic, and Shaping file copies (SMB 445) through the MPLS network.  I was estatic to see this little gem when we added the Netflow module (might as well give you a free plug for your NPM product, which rocks!):

          As for the challenges of monitoring it, we haven't had too many problems thus far, at least not with the QoS.  We are still growing into the tools we are using within NPM and NCM, but usually we are able to get our needs met fairly quickly by checking here, or getting help from the techs.

          I think that's enough for now, and if you have any questions for clarification, please hit me up with them.

          Regards,

          William

            • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
              bshopp

              Great feedback William, thank you for taking the time to write this up.  So besides if a user complains that voice or video is choppy for example, how do you track or determine if they are meeting acceptable thresholds for you?  Is this a concern?  Is this something you feel IPSLA could solve for you.  The ability to create a VoIP UDP Jitter Operation from site to site, see here for an example.  

              How many sites do you have leveraging MPLS?

                • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
                  William_Powley

                  Actually, IPSLA was the sole reason we started buying modules for NPM before we even had it up and running.  We've had a ton of problems in the past with only manual processes we could use to monitor the MOS scores of our network.  We did a demo of IPSLA and within 1-2 hours we had the PO signed, it was that impressive. 

                  I'm still getting familiar with it as wel as all the other tools, but honestly I'm not sure I'm using it right.  I've got the MOS scores reporting to our Home page in NPM showing us all the valuable statistics, but I've tried monitiring websites with the TCP function and I get response times that are all over the place.  I haven't tried since this latest update though, because I'm working on other reports and reading through all the material here. 

                  We are fairly small, so we only have about 7 sites connect to MPLS via T1, DS3, or Ethernet connections. But we are only monitoring IPSLA for our three main sites that have phone systems to generate the data. 

                  Here is another great screenshot if you guys don't mind.

                  From our Homepage:

                   

                  William

                    • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
                      savell

                      Interesting discussion this one. Whilst we are a service provider, we also perform build/run functions for customers who prefer to run private MPLS Network (the customer space in which I work).


                      These are generally high (10Gig) bandwidth Core Networks with discreet modules connected via paired PE routers.


                      Apart from the normal Orion device monitoring, we tend to run fully meshed IPSLA tests between all the PE’s, and also create custom UnDP pollers to monitor BGP state.


                      I would love to collect better QOS summary type information – but doing this via Netflow given the massive flow rates are a little impractical. We tend to utilise expensive data capture tools within these core environments to provide this type of information as and when required.


                      VRF’s run to the edge of the network, but interestingly for us this type of topology looks like it will be short-lived (IOS Firewall features seem to offer a better solution for large Branch type Networks – in this regard NCM policy compliance type features will become vital tools).


                      Dave.

                • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
                  ecornwell

                  We're an MPLS consumer.  For the most part the MPLS network is invisable to us.  We have a connection to our carrier and establish a BGP peer with them.  Outside of that, we don't see anything that is actually MPLS related. 

                  We use the connection for everything but do rely on QoS for our Voice traffic.  We have two types of sites, small and large.  The small sites do more voice across the connection as their auto-attendant and voicemail are served centrally.  The rest is just for data.  (Business apps and internet.) 

                   The most difficult part of the configuration is the fact that we have two connections to the cloud at our main facility.  We use bgp equal cost multi-path.  The problem we've had is determining which device the traffic is flowing through.  We've had occasional issues where route loops have formed on our providers network and taken down one of the devices and we have to manually figure which connection is in trouble. 

                  I've heard that we may be looking into some more advanced QoS in the near future but we don't have anything in place today. 

                    • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
                      njoylif

                      We work within the health care space, so are a few years behind on transport technologies, but we have a major project to migrate all of our remote connectivity to MPLS (from Frame).  Realistically, we are also a consumer and do not see the inner-workings, just run BGP with the providers.  As far as QoS is concerned, we are also just delving into this realm, but not because of voice.  initially, all of our traffic was real-time transaction based and very small, but as we grow and add products, things like FTP and larger data streams are required, so we are getting into QoS for that.  so, really - very little to add :)

                    • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
                      lchance

                      We have an ongoing challenge for 'video conferencing' traffic into our MPLS network. We DO NOT use QoS (not anywhere in our LAN/WAN).

                      We have multiple State Offices on MPLS. Our termination here at HQ is 45Mbps and each State Office has as high as 16Mbps down to a couple with 1.54Mbps.

                      All our video equipment is from Lifesize and their engineer has been working with me to get their SNMP V3 to work with these units (we have around 25 units/locations).

                      So far, Lifesize's SNMP V3/MIBs are buggy. Maybe soon this will get resolved and we can do performance monitoring on some of our video conference traffic.

                       

                      Another part of MPLS I'd like to monitor is BGP Neighbors and BGP performance.

                      • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
                        neilmborilla

                        We are a consumer. No visibility on MPLS devices, the provider set QoS but blinded with the informations. Even CPU load is not showing up.

                        Prioritize Voice over Data (60-50)

                        Interested in monitoring what is going in and out of that provider-managed router

                        • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
                          Donald_Francis

                          We are a MPLS consumer.  Our MPLS network stretches all over the globe.  We typically never have any issue with the MPLS itself nor with the provider so far as QOS goes.

                          In this MPLS the provider runs BGP that comes up to the CE router so we deal with it some.

                          Something BGP specific would be nice.

                          We currently do not have overlapping address spaces but we will soon so that will indeed be a concern for us.

                          Right now we blindly trust our markings are working and we QOS heavily from Voice to our own apps so we would notice but IPSLA is something I want to purchase anyway.

                          • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
                            rossw

                            Brandon,

                            We are currently demoing Packet Design's Route Explorer. I dont think Solarwinds has any product in this field or the depth they can provide, can you help me out?

                            Can I get MPLS/VRF route visibility ?

                            Thanks,

                            Ross Warren

                            • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network

                              We are a service provider and use Orion with our MPLS and VPLS customers. Currently we only use it with customers where we provide a managed router and we can ensure the management IP address of each router is unique. 

                              We would LOVE to be able to provide our portal based on SolarWinds to unmanaged customers but for that to happen SolarWinds would need to be VLAN aware. 

                              Currently we use two large Juniper firewall/ routers to securely isolate the managed customer networks yet allow the NPM/NTA server to connect to the routers. 

                              We provide all services over Ethernet so if the Solarwinds server could simply be VLAN aware and tag packets to the correct customer VLAN we could easily use it for unmanaged customers (as I understand it the database and front end of the server doesn't care about overlapping IP addresses at all). 

                              I really think Solarwinds should look into adding more multi-tenant functionality, VLAN awareness being the first big step. It is a big opportunity in the market and we would be willing to pay a reasonable additional license fee for it. It would also be the only way we could deploy the APM or IP SLA licenses, so I know there is a lot of incremental revenue at stake with us and I'm sure it is similar for other service providers and IT management firms.

                              • Re: Using Orion to monitor over an MPLS network
                                Stacy Patten

                                We are an MPLS customer and currently use NPM to collect statistical and response time information while using NCM to run some scripts to collect configuration info for config auditing.  The capability to see QoS utilization on the link within the interface would be huge for us. 

                                We run about 1500 locations around the world over about 10 providers.  We manage campus and internet equipment while the providers manage the CEs so you can imagine it get's crazy from provider to provider as they use different settings or names for the same concepts.