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E Tu Pluribus Networks UNUM?

It’s no secret that network analytics is quickly becoming the Golden Goose of IT. There are no shortage of players in this important segment, largely because no one has a perfect option. Do analytics need to be integrated into hardware or a pure software play? Should the goal of analytics to be an aggregated abstraction of traffic or should the emphasis be on capturing every packet? Is the end result of analytics simply to give visibility or must it inherently be tied to remediation (or at least tie into automation)?

One Solution from Many Options

Pluribus Networks has an interesting approach to the problem. They’ve integrated their UNUM analytics capabilities into their Adaptive Cloud Fabric architecture. If you’re not familiar with Pluribus, they offer a controller-less distributed SDN solution designed to scale-out on an architectural level.

Pluribus UNUM isn’t limited to looking at network functions. Instead, it is able to generate metadata from the network for advanced performance metrics. UNUM is designed to account for the speed of a modern network, with visibility into every port. They specifically eschewed traditional probe-based monitoring, which comes with limited visibility and often slow performance.  UNUM is a full network resolution solution with the speed for real time analytics.

The Analytics Run Deep

Instead of using probes, Pluribus leverages any Netvisor enabled switches to give end-to-end visibility. These sit as a functional network switch, but able to monitor traffic from all ports. UNUM gathers enhanced flow-based metrics and packet data including parsing. The idea is to roll out these advanced analytics capabilities to organizations that have already adopted their SDN platform. This isn’t some tacked on capability to the OS, instead Pluribus built it in on the Linux kernel level. By doing so, they are augmenting their SDN deployment without having to choose between performance and analytics services.

This data gathered from the enabled switches is in turn fed into their Insight Analytics Platform which does the actual analysis and allows for historical analysis. Impressively for a new offering IAP is integrated with most of the players you’d want. For your virtualization needs, VMware and Nutanix integrations are definitely a welcome sight.  On top of that, Pluribus UNUM has integrations with Aruba ClearPass and Office365, to better correlate network behavior with individual endpoints. The idea is to combine these integrations to give context to the switch telemetry and sFlow data to give a full picture of what is happening on your network.

The only limitation I see to Pluribus’ analytics play is that it is directly tied into their overall SDN solution. If you’re just shopping around for a pure play analytics solution, it probably wouldn’t be feasible. But for existing customers who want added visibility and context into their network performance, UNUM is a no-brainer. The company is seeing something like 95% of customers choosing to utilize the capability. Having analytics baked in at the kernel level definitely differentiates Pluribus from the pack.

Pluribus Networks recently gave a brief overview of their analytics platform at Networking Field Day. Make sure to watch the entire presentation here.

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.


  • One point of correction – The Pluribus Insight Analytics platform can monitor more than just Netvisor enabled switches. Insight Analytics can also consume data metrics from sFlow and Netflow enabled devices to provide enterprise-wide performance management capabilities across mixed vendor networks.

    • There has never been a time more critical then today to provide “clear, concise, unobstructive and accurate” visibility and instrumentation into legacy data center and modern cloud “virtualized” infrastructures to manage the barrage of new innovative mobile applications in the coming “modern web” (think of the impacts of WebAssembly, WebGPU, WebRTC, etc. wrt mobile devices and IoT). East-West, North-South…you can’t fix what you can’t measure and see! Pluribus Networks is a “true innovative differentiated network technology” (just plain smart, creative patents) and when married with a modern cloud operating system (i.e. Joyent Triton), state-of-the-art automotive real-time embedded operating systems (i.e BlackBerry QNX Hypervisor 2.0) and other mobile innovations the “impossible does become possible”! Thank you Pluribus Networks, thank you Sunay, Robert & Ken

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