The best way to get a quick overview of any network infrastructure is by viewing a diagram (or most likely set of diagrams). The human brain can receive essential information much faster when represented in graphical form. The downside is that manually creating a diagram can take a long time. And keeping a big bunch of diagrams up-to-date is not an attractive task for most of the people.
Network design documents usually include various diagrams (at least one diagram depicting physical infrastructure and at least one diagram depicting logical scheme where the data flows should go). When the design is implemented and routinely operated, the network usually undergoes through many changes as the new requirements approach. Thus design documents provide only a basic clue for everyday network operation such as:
· What is the exact connection at a specific point?
· How many of intermediate devices the data have to cross to reach the destination?
· What is the redundancy/failover mechanism and what is its actual state?
· How many other branch networks are dependent on this network site?
· Which routing mechanism and actual routing decisions apply for the data flows?
· Where in the network is the network security enforced and what is the outcome of it?
To get the answers quickly, diagrams must be kept up-to-date. If the network is large, the set or complete hierarchy of diagrams must be maintained to keep the readability at an acceptable level. The links and relations between the diagrams can slow down navigation among them — most likely when the issue span several regions in the network. And it is not always easy to find the level of detail and scope of the information included on a specific diagram — some information may be missing when troubleshooting and some information can be superfluous and thus confusing when looking for the big overview picture of the network.
Increasing the use of virtual environments with virtual links and devices brings another level of complexity when describing and understanding the network infrastructure. Logically independent entities which share some computing resources may have a different impact on network than if they were physically independent. Diagrams help here but different views of the same entities are required.
The IP Fabric platform copes with the issues mentioned above by introducing Dynamic Diagrams. Those are dynamic in two ways:
1. They are built automatically according to the current network state without the need to update them manually
2. They are viewed with real-time customization of displayed attributes reflecting the actual needs of a viewer
One can easily click through the Ip Fabric platform network diagrams from one end of the network to another or from core to the last edge level of the hierarchy.
The diagram can be quickly transformed from physical-like view with plain L1/L2 neighbor relations to any level of logical view with L2 switching or L3 routing info — thus effectively stopping the need for keeping many sets of diagrams describing the same entities, just with a different point of view.
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