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Google Cloud rolls out platform for network visibility and management

Google's Network Intelligence Center aims to offer comprehensive network monitoring across public clouds and on-premise data centers.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

As organizations adopt multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies, networks are becoming more complex. Enterprise network managing teams typically rely on multiple tools to monitor and troubleshoot their networks, and they spend a substantial amount of time managing problems. 

To address this challenge, Google Cloud on Wednesday is announcing the Network Intelligence Center, a platform that aims to unify network monitoring, verification and optimization, all in a single console that natively resides in the cloud. 

The Network Intelligence Center is launching with an initial set of modules offering network topology, connectivity testing, a performance dashboard and firewall metrics and insights. Google plans to roll out several more modules. Ultimately, the plan is to offer comprehensive network monitoring across public clouds and on-premise data centers. 

"In the fullness of time, this becomes the primary vehicle for any kind of network monitoring, verification and optimization," Shailesh Shukla, VP Product Product Management fpr GCP Networking, told ZDNet. 

While the move to the cloud has made networking more complicated, it's also made continuous network operations more imperative, Shukla noted. 

As organizations shift from monolithic applications to a microservice architecture, "it's really important for all of these microservices to actually talk to each other in a highly reliable, fast, secure fashion," he said. "Networking has once again become a critical enabler of any enterprise's infrastructure and applications."

The new platform's Network Topology module will give Google Cloud customers visibility into their global GCP deployment and its interaction with the public internet, including an organization-wide view of the topology. It offers network performance metrics for various nodes and edges, enabling metrics-driven troubleshooting, policy checks, and architecture and capacity optimization. For instance, an organization could visualize how its users are being served worldwide and whether they are being served optimally out of their nearest geographical regions. 


Google is the first public cloud provider to offer visibility into a global topology, rather than just a particular region, Shukla said. 

With the platform's Connectivity Test module, Google also says it is the first cloud provider to offer connectivity tests based on formal verification techniques. Customers can use it to proactively verify the impact of their configuration changes, preventing outages. Most network outages and performance issues result from misconfiguration, Google notes. The connectivity tests can also help ensure network security and compliance. 

Both the Network Topology and Connectivity Test modules are available in beta. 

The Network Intelligence Center also includes a Performance Dashboard in alpha, which offers real-time information about things like packet loss and latency on a per-project basis. Google says it's the first to offer this on a per-project basis, which can help network managers monitor the network performance for different projects with different networking demands. 

The platform also includes Firewall Metrics and Insights in alpha, helping customers understand things like which firewall rules may not be used anymore or which rules conflict with one another. 

Google plans to continually enhance the Network Intelligence Center, applying more machine learning and AI, Shukla said.

Google is currently working with a number of companies that offer network monitoring tools for on-premise deployments and will essentially, through APIs, work them into the Network Intelligence Center. Shukla declined to name any specific partners but said this capability is a key part of the platform. In the future, the platform will offer multi-cloud capabilities. 

"Our strategy and vision in the marketplace is all about enabling hybrid and multi-cloud," he said, "so that enterprises have... choice and flexibility and are able to operate in an open environment so they can create an application once and deploy it anywhere."

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