The Rise of Telemetry Architecture

There was a time not so long ago when you were at a party and another party goer asked the question “Oh, and what do you do for a living?” Odds are, their answer might have simply been something like “I’m an architect” and from that you could infer that they designed and authored blueprints for construction related to houses and buildings. But these days, you can be a network architect, a security architect, a cloud architect, etc. The modern age of computing has brought with it new domains that require the role of architect.

So, it got me thinking, when does a domain get to a place where it requires this role? Some certainly don’t, but others do. What qualities should they have? If you go back 20 years, you might hire an architect because they had specialized knowledge of construction to help ensure that your new or remodeled project would be functional, safe, and aesthetically pleasing. These are the same qualities that make a software or infrastructure architect successful also. With that in mind, the functional role of architect is well understood as it applies itself to domains outside of building construction.

We are constantly pushing for machines to do more for us. This has been driving advancements in the fields surrounding data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. If you are like most organizations, you have analytical platforms popping up everywhere on a regular basis, all promising some highly valued outcome that makes someone’s daily life way more awesome.  If this is true, it is also true that someone in your organization is performing the superhero task of essentially making sure that these analytical platforms have all the telemetry data they require to perform their outcomes. They have by necessity, been playing the role of telemetry architect. And here the opposite is also true, which is that if no one is playing this role, you have not fully unlocked all the analytical potentials for customer success, security, and machine-scale operations of your business.

The unspoken truth with advanced analytics is that it is dependent upon data that represents change:  telemetry data. This is simple when you have a single analytical platform but not when you have 20+ all competing for the telemetry. It was from this harsh reality that Cisco is bringing to market the Cisco Telemetry Broker. It is infrastructure for your telemetry so that you can go about putting together an architecture that serves your digital business. When the Internet first began, it was about ensuring that packets get to and from clients and servers. The Cisco Telemetry Broker continues this, ensuring that telemetry gets to and from analytical platforms!

The Cisco Telemetry Broker is required infrastructure for a healthy telemetry architecture. One that ensures that any exporter or sender of telemetry is made available to any consumer. But it goes beyond just this brokerage function, as it also allows you to transform protocols so that legacy telemetry feeds can be made compatible with modern consumers and modern telemetry can be made compatible to legacy consumers!

On one hand, if you are managing hundreds or thousands of applications and devices, that are all sending some form of telemetry (syslog, netflow, snmp, VPCflowlogs, etc), all you do is point it at a Cisco Telemetry Broker node and you are done. This is likely the last time you will need to touch that configuration because now all those telemetry streams become programmable (filter, replicate, etc.)

On the other hand, if you are the manager of an analytical platform, whether SaaS or on-prem, instead of having to ask several hundred exporters to send to you, or worse, having to go beg another analytical platform for a copy of the data stream, you can just go to the Cisco Telemetry Broker and specify which feeds and in what format you require. Five clicks or a few API calls and you are done.

If your business is based on analytics for its success, then it can also be said that it is dependent on quality telemetry being available for the advancements of these analytics. The role of telemetry architect is either being played by no one, or worse, being played by too many folks all contending for some telemetry that is exclusive to a platform. In all my years of experience building data lakes for analytics, I needed to stop and build an intelligent river system that would help all the lakes thrive in harmony. Cisco Telemetry Broker is that intelligent river system and I think you will find it essential for your infrastructure’s telemetry architecture.


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