Host-INT brings network packet telemetry

Inband Network Telemetry and Host-INT can provide valuable insights on network performance – including information on latency and packet drops.

Hyperscale data centers are seeking more visibility into network performance for better manageability. This challenge is made more difficult as the number of switches and servers grow, and as data flows evolve to 100Gbps and higher. Knowing where network congestion is and how it is affecting data flows and service level agreements (SLAs) is critical.

Inband Network Telemetry (INT) is an open specification from the P4 open source community [1]. The goal of INT is to allow the collection and reporting of packets as they flow through the network. Intel has brought this capability to the Linux open source community with Host Inband Network Telemetry (Host-INT). The Host-INT framework can collect some very valuable data on network conditions – such as latency and packet drops – that would be very hard to obtain otherwise. Host-INT is ideal for app developers who need to know the network’s impact on an application. Or, a large wide area network (WAN) service provider could use Host-INT to ensure that its service level agreements are being met.

Host-INT builds on Switch-INT, another P4 implementation that performs measurements on network packets. Both Host-INT and Switch-INT are designed to operate entirely in the data plane of a network device (e.g., in the hardware fast path of a switch ASIC or Ethernet network adapter). Switch-INT is currently running on programmable switch infrastructures such as Intel’s Tofino Intelligent Fabric Processors [2]. By operating in the data plane, Switch-INT can provide extensive network telemetry without impacting performance.

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