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A new Application recognition paradigm – Flow metadata (Part 1)

Flow metadata allows an application to explicitly signal any arbitrary attributes to the network from node to node. This avoids the pitfall of data not being visible for deep packet inspection due to increasing use of encryption and obfuscation.

Tradition network classification solution using deep packet inspection technology is localized as classification may not be available along the path. How can network element enforce policies if they do not have uniform view of traffic to apply consistent enforcement of network policies ? Flow Metadata is reusable across network nodes by allowing sharing of flow attributes amongst network nodes. This allows appropriate and consistent policies to be applied at each hop, end to end, improving the quality of experience.

The flow metadata component of medianet allows the application to convey information to a set of network nodes. This makes it easy for management software to report information in a more meaningful way.  For example, “John from finance is having quality issues with his Jabber desktop video” is much easier to diagnose than obscure IP addresses and protocol numbers. Imagine  extending  this meaningful application context information to network policies such as QoS, routing, and  SLAs.  The medianet flow metadata feature enables granular policies based on application context and not limited to network attributes. For example, with flow metadata, it is now possible to easily prioritize scheduled sessions over ad hoc sessions. 

Modern collaboration applications consist of data, voice and video streams. Together they make up a single quality of experience. For example, they need to be perfectly synchronized – not only between audio and video, but between the multiple video streams and multiple audio streams, to avoid problems such as lip-synch error. Traditional solutions lack the ability to correlate these multi-streams of the same interaction. The additional intelligence provided by the medianet flow metadata framework enables applications to communicate the relationship among these multiple media sessions to the network end to end  to meet the multi-stream co-ordination requirements of modern collaboration applications.

This is the first part of a two-part post.  Please read  Part 2, where I discuss deployment challenges on application recognition and how Flow Metadata uniquely solves these challenges.

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