Imagine that you’ve built a house and invested time, money, and effort into it for a long time. You are happy that the house is completed to your satisfaction on time and that you and your family have moved in as planned. Living in your own home has never been so satisfying and things are going great. After a few months, you find that there is a water leak in your basement and a tense moment with family members to fix it. You are not a plumber, nor a contractor, and you don’t know the internal details of the pipe, the layout of the walls, or how your architect designed the house. What do you do? You need to hire an expert to first identify the source of the leak, and then spend time and money to fix it—and while waiting for the repairs you have to live with the water continuing to leak.

But what if you could have a centralized dashboard where you input the location of the seepage, it gives you all the information on the source of the leak, why and how it was caused, whether there were any issues in the architectural design, construction, etc. and a possible solution on how to fix it? Just like any professional architect helping you locate the root cause and faults, IT organizations can derive tremendous value from identifying network issues in their SD-WAN network before there is any impact on users.

Introducing Network-Wide Path Insights 

Network-Wide Path Insights (NWPI) is a tool natively built into Cisco vManage that helps you find the source of the network issues users are facing from time to time while accessing their applications residing on-prem or in the cloud.  NWPI provides greater visibility and deeper insights into your SD-WAN deployment. It helps enterprises and managed service providers (MSPs)  ensure their network is operating optimally at all times.

NWPI provides comprehensive analyses of traffic flows in the network with information on applications accessed by users, classification of business-critical flows, monitoring and reporting of network delays, troubleshooting tips, and graphical deep insights into flow analyses.

Network-Wide Path Insights dashboard
Figure 1: Network-Wide Path Insights dashboard

NWPI gives visual representations of how a packet traverses the network, along with the routing policies that were made while the packet ingresses and exits the router device. It provides visibility and insights into the packet, application, flow, and network level with detailed insights such as network jitter, loss, and latency. It can assist your IT teams with performance analysis, network planning, and troubleshooting. For example, NWPI can provide the best path recommendation for an application.  For example, Webex voice traffic is better off taking the internet as a transport route to reach the destination as opposed to taking a private MPLS link route.

NWPI monitoring and analyses can be accomplished by triggering a trace for a given set of IP addresses and site IDs in the NWPI UI screen in vManage as shown below in Figure 2:

NWPI trace creation within Cisco vManage
Figure 2: NWPI trace creation within Cisco vManage

When a trace is started, NWPI programs the router at each site to start collecting flow insight data with the filters specified. Your NetOps team can monitor the flow for a particular site ID, a particular VPN, or a particular source and destination IP address. To tune and deploy the policy for interested applications and domains, the DNS Domain discovery knob can be turned on to make effective design decisions before deploying newer sites.

During the duration of the trace, NWPI constantly monitors the traffic ingressing and exiting the router device based on the filters specified. The device sends the trace which is collected as metadata to the vManage console at constant intervals. vManage correlates data received from multiple routers and data sources for further analyses and reporting. There is little impact on the routers when a trace is started as all the operations are performed in the hardware. The trace thus collected helps you get deeper insights into flows that are traversing the device or network.

In summary, NWPI is an extremely valuable tool built into the vManage GUI to help your IT organization gain deeper insights and more proactively manage your SD-WAN deployment.


Learn more about NWPI

Cisco SD-WAN Monitor and Maintain Configuration Guide


Additional Resources: 

NWPI demo video

Cisco SD-WAN analytics

Cisco SD-WAN


Ravi U. Krishna

Product Manager, Networking Technologies