FlowBROKER - The Mobile Network

FlowBROKER - The Mobile Network
Solution brief
Operators Require All Layer Visibility
to Assure QoE – Here’s How
In an app-centric era, user experience is key to
communication service providers’ (CSPs) success. To
deliver the user experience customers expect, operators
must be able to analyze how well applications are
performing, in addition to monitoring network quality of
service (QoS)—they need visibility at all layers to
effectively monitor, troubleshoot and optimize quality of
experience (QoE).
Put another way, QoE assurance requires ‘illuminated
troubleshooting,’ involving:
 All-layer visibility for rapid root cause isolation of
issues affecting customers.
 Multi-layer, multi-metric correlation revealing the
relationship between QoS and QoE.
 Focusing optimization efforts where subscribers are
most likely to notice—and benefit.
Solutions to achieve this type of 20/20 vision with
actionable insights must be cost and bandwidth efficient
(measuring QoE shouldn’t impact it), and provide metrics
from all layers, all locations, at all times and seasons.
Existing QoE Analysis Tools and
Methods Fall Short
Until now, visibility into the application layer and user
experience was restricted by analyzer cost, at locations
governed by access to data. While deep packet
inspection (DPI), protocol, and application-layer
analyzers can deliver insights into the actual user
experience, this technology is large, costly, and
impractical to deploy remotely.
Ideally, central analyzers would have access to traffic
from all locations in the network, but common remote
capture methods—like Remote PCAP, (E)RSPAN and
sFlow—provide only basic filtering and counting, don’t
guarantee packet delivery, are insecure, and result in
high network overhead. They also tax routers’
processors, potentially adding latency and loss to
monitored traffic. Flow statistics methods—like
NetFlow/IPFix—offer traffic distribution reporting from
February 2016
routers in the network, but don’t permit payload analysis
when reported usage profiles indicate deeper
investigation is required.
analyzers, but offer no way to gain remote access to
flows elsewhere in the network.
Other factors restricting QoE visibility include:
 Distributed packet brokering for use by centrallylocated analyzers is impractical when there is no way
to guarantee all the packets completed the transit, or
to accurately time-stamp them for precise analysis.
 Sending captured traffic without efficient preprocessing over the network can potentially impact
QoE, while offering no guarantees that the received
captured data has enough fidelity to be useful—loss,
packet resequencing, and inaccurate packet timing all
result in non-representative samples to analyze.
 Software-based analyzers are limited by processing
power of the hardware they run on—often, a generalpurpose CPU chip not designed for the volume of
data involved.
Analyzers benefit from tailored, pre-conditioned data,
where filtering, slicing, flow assembly, and brokering
offloads significant processing overhead to provide
efficient all-layer visibility. This is one reason why packet
brokers and intelligent taps are fundamental companions
to most analyzers.
Accedian’s FlowBROKER™ solves these problems by
combining lossless, precise, distributed remote capture
with centralized, virtualized packet brokering. As it is
impractical to bring analyzers to every data source,
FlowBROKER brings this data to the analyzers. This
separates data access from analysis, liberating
analyzers from the myopia and confines of core
locations, and dramatically increases their visibility to
any flow in the network.
However, for brokered packets to have sufficient timing
accuracy and integrity to afford accurate analysis, packet
brokers and analyzers have to be collocated: packet
brokers can offload traffic pre-processing from
FlowBROKER: Complete QoE
and All-Layer Visibility
FlowBROKER is the industry’s first network functions
virtualization (NFV)-powered remote packet capture
solution. It closes the QoE visibility gap by making
distributed packet capture feasible and affordable. It also
makes virtualized DPI and analyzers practical, by delivering
precisely time-stamped packets to any location, physical or
virtual, at cloud-scale.
This disruptive technology works by using either a
miniature, NFV-based Module or smart SFP to tap any point
in the network, then conditions and streams the captured
data in real-time to Accedian’s virtualized VCX controller
and the FlowBROKER virtual network function (VNF).
FlowBROKER ● February 2016
FlowBROKER provides exceptional coverage to assure QoS & QoE data center access (DCA)
and hybrid cloud connectivity applications
FlowBROKER = Total Visibility
Separates Traffic Access from
 Full line-rate capture
 Local time-stamping
 Local packet slicing
 Efficient, lossless delivery
Eliminates Blind Spots
 Tap the network anywhere
 Sectionalize the network
 Hop-by-hop visibility
Frees & Offloads Analyzers from:
 High-speed capture, filtering, processing
OR The need for packet broker appliances
Offers Limitless Scale
 Distributed capture: scales site-by-site
 Centralized brokering: scales with NFVI
FlowBROKER ● February 2016
FlowBROKER allows centralized analyzers to gain access
to network traffic flows to add location-based visibility into
QoE of applications including VoLTE, IPTV, streaming
video, software-as-a-service (SaaS), intrusion detection,
policy enforcement, protocol, and payload analysis. This is
a critical piece of missing information, to date, where
analyzers could detect an error, but not localize and isolate
it for root cause analysis and rapid service restoration and
real-time optimization. In many applications, FlowBROKER
makes the difference between identifying an issue and
rapidly resolving it.
Intelligent, Efficient Brokering
After filtering/capture, microsecond precise timestamping, slicing, and bundling performed directly by the
Module at the tap location, FlowBROKER losslessly
transfers packets to the virtualized VCX Controller for
remaining aspects of the brokering function (unbundling,
file storage, aggregation, and duplication if being sent to
more than one analyzer). This results in efficient,
guaranteed packet delivery from tap to analyzer —
every packet is accounted for.
FlowBROKER’s patent-pending method of efficiently
transporting data across the network allows remote capture
to be used continuously as a monitoring tool, instead of
only for intermittent troubleshooting. It can also be used
alongside bandwidth utilization metering, and active test
and performance monitoring methods.
Granular, Shared Filters
Detailed, 7-tuple+ capture and reporting filters—shared
with other monitoring functions controlled by the VCX—
results in highly granular analysis. FlowBROKER can
classify and capture hundreds of concurrent flows at
speeds up to full line rate, with microsecond precision
and no loss.
FlowBROKER filters go beyond standard 5-tuples to
include DSCP, interfaces, and all key Layer 2 header
fields, for surgical classification—providing optimal input
streams to analyze, while eliminating unnecessary data
FlowBROKER ● February 2016
Lossless, Assured Delivery
FlowBROKER makes it possible to locate analyzers
remotely without sacrificing data capture quality. VCX
Controller automatically verifies bandwidth availability for
packet transfer, authenticates session setup for secure
capture, and prioritizes drop with loss accounting if the
session is disrupted.
Flexible and Performance Assured
FlowBROKER uses an NFV-based control and analysis
engine, making it a scalable, programmable, future proof
solution with open multi-platform integration.
FlowBROKER can be installed in-line or out, with physical
or virtualized deployment options available.
As the SkyLIGHT™ VCX controller is a virtualized
appliance, brokered flows can be easily steered to either
physical or virtual appliances, VNFs and controllers, and
can scale up and out to process vast amounts of data.
FlowBROKER ● February 2016
FlowBROKER Applications
FlowBROKER is a universal tool that enhances network
visibility as well as the efficacy of a wide range of analysis
tools in diverse applications. With access to data from any
location in mobile, wireline, enterprise, or data center
networks, centralized analyzers become “location-aware,”
tapping all points of interest to form a complete picture of
network behavior and the user experience.
Because the SkyLIGHT VCX is a virtualized appliance, its
packet brokering capabilities can scale as required to
process remote capture data from the entire network—
analyzing data from thousands of capture points becomes
practical, for the first time. This facilitates the use of
virtualized analyzer appliances, as they can be “spun up” in
close proximity to a VCX instance, and directly connect
through a high-speed data center fabric.
Many applications benefit from this new level of insight,
from traffic analysis to big data analytics. Some common
ones include:
Troubleshooting Network & Service
When QoS issues arise, operators need information to
make a swift root-cause diagnosis, and tools to confirm that
service has been restored as expected. FlowBROKER’s
remote capture capabilities complement network layer
monitoring and active test tools by affording protocol and
QoE analyzers access to any point of interest, without the
cost and delays of a technician dispatch.
By adding remote capture into Accedian Modules that also
provide bandwidth utilization metering, continuous end-toend performance monitoring, traffic loopbacks, and turn-up
testing, service providers can rapidly detect, isolate, and
analyze network and QoE impairments—then test and
validate resolution—all from the SkyLIGHT performance
Eliminating the manual configuration of many separate
tools, commonly defined filters are shared by
FlowMETER™, FlowBROKER, and L2-4 loopbacks.
Problems can be quickly detected, flows of interest
captured, and active tests conducted, knowing that results
reflect consistent traffic classification across all functions.
FlowBROKER ● February 2016
With complete visibility into call signaling and
media, FlowBROKER permits per-session QoE
analysis for both call control and user-perceived
quality. As 80 percent of call drops originate in the
radio access and backhaul network1, analyzers
located in the core can detect quality issues, but
lack information from the RAN/backhaul network
to efficiently diagnose them.
With the ability to tap flows at any location in a
mobile network—from packet or serving gateway
to each eNodeB—call quality issues can be rapidly
detected and resolved to their point of origin within
the EPC or RAN, and at network, transport,
control, and application layers. QoE degradation
can be analyzed along the call path, to determine
which segments or network elements introduce
Fully programmable flow brokering can be
triggered by network events or QoS impairments
(e.g. packet loss thresholds on voice bearer
traffic), initiated on demand in the VCX interface or
via XML northbound interface (NBI), or streamed
DPI-enabled QoE:
Surgical VoLTE Traffic Capture:
 Detect one-way issues
 IGMP / SIP / IMS signaling
 Detect, isolate, and correlate local issues
 RTP packets with time-stamp
 Bring full-path visibility to centralized analyzers
 Real-time streaming and SCP host for PCAP storage
 Combine user context and meta data to
correlate QoE and QoS with location, device
type, signal strength, and more
To learn in-depth how FlowBROKER helps mobile operators deliver
and assure the best possible VoLTE experience, read Accedian’s
“VoLTE QoE - Establish, Assure & Optimize.”
Video QoE
Video quality can degrade at any point along the
transmission path. FlowBROKER gives centralized
analyzers segmented and local access to video flows,
allowing them to isolate where individual sessions
deteriorate or disconnect. From IPTV delivered over
residential access networks to ViLTE over mobile,
FlowBROKER allows analyzers to capture all key control
and media KPIs from any point in the network.
Operators offering differentiated access to partner content
providers (CDN), zero-rated bundles, or multi-screen
broadcast and streaming services can ensure that the user
experience meets customer expectations, while ensuring
that premium content excels against over the top (OTT)
Amdocs mobile network survey, January 2016
FlowBROKER ● February 2016
By performing targeted capture on real-time protocol (RTP)
streams, operators can quickly isolate video quality issues
stemming from sequence gaps, out-of-order, and lost
packets. FlowBROKER’s microsecond-precise time
stamping allows analyzers to identify excessive jitter for
any particular flow. This allows the provider visualize how
jitter develops along the transport path, to isolate packet
drop locations, and to optimize jitter buffers where the most
loss occurs.
FlowBROKER can help identify changes in RTP transport
configuration that can impair video QoE, including loss of
packet prioritization (DSCP / CoS marking / Bearer QCI),
and routing changes. It also offers insight into common
causes of video degradation: transcoding issues,
insufficient streaming rate, and IGMP signaling latency.
Programmable capture can be automatically triggered by
analyzers detecting repeated failures in IGMP / SIP / IMS
messaging, excessive latency, packet loss or jitter, or
degrading video MOS user experience scores.
Financial Compliance & Trade-Flow Analysis
Accedian’s FlowBROKER remote, distributed packet
brokering solution allows institutions to accurately timestamp and capture every trade flow packet, at all critical
locations to record the exact time of each trading event—
guaranteeing optimal performance, transparency and
regulatory conformance of their trading infrastructure. With
a unique ability to synchronize time-stamping clocks at
each capture point, no new timing distribution infrastructure
is required.
application level—there is no need to re-instrument
potentially hundreds of technology stacks across all the
locations an institution operates in.
FlowBROKER simplifies compliance with regulations such
as MiFID II and Dodd Frank, while opening up a real-time
feed for detailed trade flow analysis. Since time-stamping
takes place at the network level—rather than the
Learn all about Accedian’s solutions for financial services,
and how FlowBROKER brings a whole new level of
precision and resolution to compliance solutions, extranet
monitoring, and trade flow visualization in our web library.
FlowBROKER ● February 2016
FlowBROKER’s cost-efficient licensing model allows
providers to fully instrument their full trading flow, from
ingress into the bank/brokers’ buy side FIX Hub all the way
down to the executing venues’ infrastructure, and back
again. It does this without impacting underlying trade flows
latency or content.
Security & Policy Applications
In addition to QoE and protocol analysis, FlowBROKER’s
unique access to any packets, anywhere, dramatically
increases the coverage surface area of detection and
intercept systems, in addition to providing granular insight
to policy enforcement systems.
Lawful Intercept
FlowBROKER permits lawful intercept systems to capture
sessions that may bypass traditional tapping locations.
With programmable capture control, calls of interest can be
quickly identified and logged from bandwidth-efficient
signaling traces, only capturing media from targeted
sessions when recording is required.
Accedian Performance Elements and Modules can also
filter and regulate flows at wire-speed, providing distributed
enforcement applied directly at network entry points.
Policy Enforcement
FlowBROKER allows traffic from any location or interface
in the network to be delivered to DPI appliances, and policy
and charging rules function (PCRF) systems for traffic
analysis, and policy enforcement.
Intrusion Detection
FlowBROKER increases the coverage of intrusion
detection systems (IDS) to every network access point—
and to all points within the network itself—to combine the
fastest-possible security threat vector detection with perlocation awareness and isolation.
Conclusion: FlowBROKER Opens
a New Era of Visibility
FlowBROKER is part of Accedian’s virtualized SkyLIGHT
Performance Platform that also integrates exceptionally
granular, scalable active QoS testing and real-time
monitoring. This brings together application-layer
performance assurance, QoS, QoE, and analytics to give
operators a complete, actionable view into network
performance and resulting user experience.
FlowBROKER provides—for the first time—pervasive, allencompassing visibility into all flows, applications, layers,
and locations in any network, for direct insight into
application performance, network behavior and user
FlowBROKER extends the reach, utility and scale of
established DPI, security, policy and QoE analyzers by
separating traffic access from analysis, much the way
SDN separates control and data planes, making holistic,
efficient network-wide awareness possible. An exceptional
and unique tool, it allows centralized tools to analyze
traffic at any location, without compromising data integrity,
granularity or timing precision.
to learn more about
FlowBROKER, or
to contact one of
our solution
© 2016 Accedian Networks Inc. All rights reserved.
Accedian Networks, the Accedian Networks logo, SkyLIGHT, AntMODULE,
Vision EMS, Vision Suite, VisionMETRIX, Vision Collect, Vision Flow, Vision SP,
V-NID, Plug & Go, R-FLO, Network State+, Traffic-Meter, FlowMETER &
airMODULE are trademarks or registered trademarks of Accedian Networks Inc.
All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective
companies. Accedian Networks may, from time to time, make changes to the
products or specifications contained herein without notice. Some certifications
may be pending final approval, please contact Accedian Networks for current
FlowBROKER ● February 2016
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