Scott Hanson (@CiscoServerGeek) explains Cisco’s Tetration as a DVR for the datacenter – with analytics


A couple months ago, Cisco announced a new datacenter operations product called Tetration.  Marc Farley (@GoFarley) asked Scott Hanson (@CiscoServerGeek) to explain it in this ridecast.


Hi, this is a technology ridecast, I’m Marc Farley and our special guest this morning is Scott Hanson,  the @CiscoServerGeek. How’re you doing Scott?

SH: Oh my god Marc, I’m doing awesome, how are you, it’s so great to hear from you.

MF: Hey, I wanted to talk to you about Tetration. I’ve been hearing about this, I’ve been seeing it. I haven’t really understood, it’s some kind of analytics for data center management?

SH: Yeah! Tetration is our awesome analytics appliance. You can get real-time visibility into your datacenter, we like to call it pervasive visibility. Up until now it’s been really tough to figure out what’s going on in the datacenter as far as applications and these cloud things and we have a lot of microservices. We discovered that when we were talking to people and starting to roll out our ACI solutions, existing application owners just didn’t know what the heck was going on, so we wanted to give them some way to get a real time view into the datacenter so we could help them. So I like to explain it, it’s like when you move your house, right, I go from one house to another house, and I box everything up and I pack it all up and I move into my new house. And then what people do is they open the kitchen boxes and then they open the bedroom boxes, and then after a while, you say Ok, I’ll unbox the bathroom box, you’ve got everything in a box – and eventually you look in the garage and there’s still a lot of boxes. And I just don’t want to open them, I don’t want to look at them. And that’s what we need with application owners, they’re looking at VMs that are stale, or old, and they don’t know what the heck is going on, who’s talking to ’em, are they are still being used? You know the person that created it is long gone from the company and didn’t leave good notes.  That’s what Tetration is all about – giving me visibility into every single box and every single little thing inside of all the boxes to know what’s going on.

One of the other things we can get out of it is the security aspect. If I get anything penetrating into my data center, I can actually look back and replay what happened during that security breach. The analytics engine actually keeps a year’s worth of data, so I can replay what happened, see where it got in, and then once it got in, see where it spread it’s little spidery arms into each piece of the datacenter and where it actually went. And then I can use that to close those holes and close this breach where it came it. And not only that, since I have this replay of the data center – it’s like a DVR of the datacenter – I can actually create scenarios and say “what if”, what if I did this, or what if I had a security breach that came in through here, and it’s a security exploit of a certain type, to go through an analysis of what would have happened, it’s real critical.

MF: So what’s it look like hardware and software, you say it’s an appliance is it like a box or what does somebody get?

SH: It’s what we call a big data analytics engine, which is a 39u rack, that’s purpose-built. There’s a bunch of servers in it – there’s 36 servers, 33 those are actually in a hadoop cluster that
does all the real time calculation pieces of it, And then on the ingestion side of it, there are hardware and software sensors. Software sensors are really the way to go because they can be installed in any VM, any host, any standalone server that can pop the data to the analytics engine. There’s a web front end into it that has a real time reporting structure and then we also  have API’s to ingest data and then I can push data out to other solutions as well.

MF: A 33 node Hadoop cluster built-in to do analytics about what’s going on with your apps – that’s really impressive.

SH: Oh yeah, and not having to be a data scientist, right. It’s almost like talking to Alexis Wright – hey Alexa, tell me what is the application talking to – show me all that stuff.

MF: This is really been great. I learned a lot about Tetration.  Where should people go if they want to find out more about this?

SH:  (spelled t-e-t-r-a-t-i-o-n)

MF: Thanks for coming on man, this is really great.

SH: Thanks Marc. It was great to hear from you.

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