Cisco Performance Engine

Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Agilent Firehunter Integrated Solution Data Sheet

Data Sheet

Cisco CNS Performance Engine
and Agilent Firehunter

Cisco Systems is working with Agilent Technologies as a partner in the performance and service-level management space for service providers. This partnership brings all the advantages of Agilent Technologies' best-in-class service-level management system, Firehunter, to Cisco CNS Performance Engine applications.

Cisco CNS Performance Engine simplifies the collection, aggregation, and forwarding of performance and usage data from a wide variety of Cisco element types and data sources according to policies programmed into it by higher-layer applications. The CNS Performance Engine also offers local processing and correlation of performance metrics for particular services and application domains, increasing the manageability of those services.

Firehunter is a best-in-class solution that monitors and manages the end-to-end performance of providers' services such as voice, business data services for mission-critical applications, and Internet Web, news, mail, and security services. Whereas many network and system management tools help identify specific problems with individual devices, Firehunter goes further and provides an end-to-end view of service health and the customer experience. By simulating actual user behavior, Firehunter can pinpoint dependencies in a provider's environment that other management tools will miss.

Service-Level Management Solutions

The Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Agilent Firehunter integrated solution supports service-level monitoring and reporting, as well as service-level agreement (SLA) management, resulting in assured, verified service levels for tiered-service offerings. These powerful capabilities can help providers realize revenue increases while giving them greater control over their rapidly growing business.

Firehunter controls and manages Cisco CNS Performance Engine Service Assurance Agent (SAA) and Management Information Base (MIB) tests through a user-friendly drag-and-drop paradigm. All data collected from CNS Performance Engine is available for variable baselining and thresholding, internal and customer reporting, and SLA management, like any other Firehunter measurement. Today, users can drag and drop CNS Performance Engine tests into any Firehunter service model and gather the requested data with no additional configuration or management. The solution can be applied to numerous domains and value-added services such as existing Firehunter services models for backbone network monitoring, Web hosting, and access networks incorporating CNS Performance Engine data without any custom engineering or services. In addition, Agilent and Cisco have developed specific service models for both of Cisco's VIA Infrastructure Manager and Broadband Aggregation solutions.

VoIP Performance Management/Service-Level Management with Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Agilent Firehunter

Global Long-Distance Voice Service-Level Management Solution

Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Agilent Firehunter combine to provide end-to-end service and performance management of voice-over-IP (VoIP) service offerings. This unique end-to-end view provides unsurpassed fault detection and isolation, as well as service-level management and reporting capabilities.

Cisco CNS Performance Engine collects and correlates Remote Access Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) call records as well as key MIB information from gatekeepers, gateways, trunk groups, and interfaces in the VoIP network. The centralized data collection and correlation facility of CNS Performance Engine makes configuration and control of data acquisition simple and straightforward.

Firehunter integrates with CNS Performance Engine to provide a unique service-oriented view of the VoIP network. The components of the system can be distributed to provide maximum scalability and flexibility (Figure 1).

Figure 1   Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Agilent Firehunter Integration

Firehunter presents the VoIP performance data in a hierarchical view comprising regions, zones, and groups to provide unique fault detection and isolation capabilities. Faults in the network are inherently broken down according to the VoIP infrastructure, allowing quick isolation (Figure 2).

Figure 2   Firehunter VoIP Service Model

Key VoIP-specific performance metrics include:

  • Number of calls
  • Number of international calls
  • Call success ratio (CSR)
  • Answer seizure ratio (ASR)
  • Average, minimum, and maximum call duration
  • Post-dial delay (PDD)
  • Gateway digital signal processor (DSP) utilization

In addition, standard IP network and server metrics are also included:

  • Interface utilization and error rates
  • Trunk group utilization and error rates
  • CPU load and memory utilization
  • Round-trip delay
  • Packet loss
  • Jitter

Key Values

The integrated Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Agilent Firehunter Integration performance and service-level management solution provides vital functionality for proactive management of the performance and availability of business-critical services—particularly those services on which customers and users interact via the Internet or intranet. It monitors services "top down" by conducting service health tests, which simulate user interaction with the service and span across the actual infrastructure components necessary to deliver the service. Via its monitoring capabilities, Firehunter determines enough information about the service delivery components to direct users for diagnosis, troubleshooting, and root-cause analysis.

Easier Configuration

With Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Firehunter, you do not have to be a software expert to configure your solution. Advanced drag-and-drop capabilities make it quick and easy to add data from CNS Performance Engine to the patented Firehunter service model. As with any of the Firehunter tests, the CNS Performance Engine tests can be dragged from the template area and dropped into the service model. Because no code needs to be written, tests can be configured in seconds.

When a user drops a template into the service model, a configuration dialog box appears to allow the user to configure the Cisco CNS Performance Engine Test. With Firehunter, configuration is intuitive—and straightforward.

Extensive Tests and Measurements

Whereas some products give users bits and pieces of information, Firehunter and Cisco CNS Performance Engine show the whole picture. CNS Performance Engine provides aggregation and correlation of data to provide coordinated, scaled access to data sourced from Cisco Agent technologies, including the SAA, MIBs, and voice performance measurements and RADIUS call detail records (CDRs). Firehunter software agents complement this with a wide variety of active end-to-end service tests, including e-mail, Web, news, Domain Name System (DNS), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), and wireless.

To extend the monitoring solution, Firehunter can create and collect MIB and SAA data from Cisco CNS Performance Engine and graph and report these measurements along with any Firehunter measurements. This smooth integration brings providers and their customers real-time results from both CNS Performance Engine and Firehunter.

Industry-Leading SLA Capabilities

With industry-leading Firehunter SLA capabilities, you can easily generate detailed SLAs that incorporate data gathered from both passive measurement data and active probes across the network coordinated via Cisco CNS Performance Engine.

This makes it easy to write mutually beneficial SLAs that protect the providers' interests as well as their customers' interests. Providers can make sure that they are not paying for service problems caused by conditions within the customers' environment.

Greater Scalability and Platform Support

Your service is growing and changing. Can your service assurance solution grow with you? With CNS Performance Engine and Firehunter, the answer is yes. Firehunter has been designed to scale upward for large deployments. Cisco CNS Performance Engine adds distributed data aggregation and correlation functions focused on Cisco technologies. And because the CNS Performance Engine capabilities are so smoothly blended into Firehunter, the combined solution scales easily for small and large networks.

Key Features and Benefits

Table 1 gives the key features and benefits of the Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Agilent Firehunter solution.

Table 1   Features and Benefits of Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Agilent Firehunter Solution

Feature Benefit
Proactive Management Capabilities
Network performance management

Measure and manage the performance of entire networks, from customer sites through network backbones to customers or applications. Take advantage of Cisco intelligent agents and Cisco CNS intelligent engines to validate and verify quality of service (QoS) and SLAs across Cisco product-equipped networks.

Distributed monitoring of network server and application performance

This architecture scales and coordinates the collection of end-to-end performance data, creating a service-centric database. This feature accurately tracks customer experiences, and enables real-time reporting of service performance.

Fault detection and isolation

This feature provides for proactive fault identification via threshold-crossing alerts. It enables operations to recognize and correct problems quickly. The service model view provides visual correlation between customers, services, and service component status for rapid isolation of service and element faults.

Baselining, thresholding, visualization, and simple correlation

This feature allows generation of meaningful performance graphs for related service components in operations views. It enables comparison of performance across network, server, and application components for quick isolation of problems and management by exception.

Operator-specific views: Operations, Customer Service, and Planning

This feature shares information, resulting in better coordination and more effective communications.

Powerful Reporting, SLA Tools
SLA management and reporting

This feature supports quick SLA creation with predefined templates that are easily customized to specific customer requirements.

Customer network management: Web-based service-level reporting

This feature automates graphical service-level reporting on a per-customer basis.

Proactive SLA compliance

This feature tracks SLA compliance proactively. It makes correction of problems before SLA violations occur possible.

SLA credits

This feature automates credit calculation and reporting on the value of managed SLA compliance.

Simple or complex SLA capabilities

The provider and the customer understand exactly where SLA violation occurred and who was responsible for the violation. SLAs are built on multiple service-level objectives, such as latency, operating, and grace periods and nonprovider controlled items such as link utilization.

Easy Customization, Integration
Graphical service model customization

This feature easily adapts to your specific Internet service requirements and customer needs.

Performance data collection from other management systems

This feature provides default management agents and tests to collect performance data from end-to-end components (network, servers, applications). It is easily adapted to integrate with existing management tools.

Excellent scalability

This feature offers increased visibility of network performance. It scales upward to meet the needs of the largest global service providers, enterprises, and e-businesses.

Easy to install, configure, and use

This feature allows you to gain immediate financial results.

Future Domain-Specific Performance Management Solutions

The next phase of development in the Cisco and Agilent partnership focuses on providing additional domain-specific performance and service-level management solutions in conjunction with the Cisco CNS Performance Engine and operations support system (OSS) management product introductions. Currently under development are solutions for the following network management domains:

  • Broadband access
  • Metropolitan (metro) Ethernet
  • Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and IP Security virtual private network (IPSec VPN)
  • Cable

System Requirements

Firehunter is a Java application supported by the following hardware and software:

  • SunSPARC Ultra Server or Workstation, including multiprocessors with Solaris 2.6, 2.7, 2.8
  • Intel-based systems, Microsoft Windows NT Workstation (or Server) 4.0 (SP4 or SP5), and Windows 2000
  • HP-UX 11.0 on workstations or servers
  • Red Hat Linux 6.1, 6.2 (agents only)

Cisco CNS Performance Engine is supported on Sun Solaris 2.8. Recommended part numbers for the Sun Platforms that are optimized for Cisco.

Summary and Conclusion

The integrated Cisco CNS Performance Engine and Agilent Firehunter performance and service-level management solution provides vital functionality for proactive management of the performance and availability of business-critical services—the CNS Performance Engine and Firehunter solution provides immediate value for OSS applications that require a higher level of control and monitoring of data from CNS Performance Engine SAA and MIB tests. Both operational and service-level analysis and reporting of CNS Performance Engine data are greatly enhanced by the inclusion of Firehunter in existing CNS Performance Engine solutions.

In addition, domain-specific solutions in key areas, such as VoIP, broadband access, metro ethernet, VPN, and others will provide turnkey performance and service-level management of these complex service offerings by service provider customers.

For Further Information

For information about Cisco CNS Performance Engine, visit the following Web site:

Details on Firehunter features and benefits, white papers, case studies, and more are available on the Firehunter Web site: