Know your Flow with BENOCs Flow Analytics

Stephan Schroeder, CEO of BENOCS, and Jerry Grondel, Technical Product Manager at NL-ix, discuss the benefits and opportunities of the hosted model of BENOCS Flow Analytics, now available on the NL-ix platform.

Can you tell us a bit about the BENOCS Analytics tool?

Stephan: “BENOCS offers a suite of analytic and traffic optimisation tools for anyone who runs networks as a business – e.g. operators, CDNs, hosting companies and exchanges. The solutions are currently active on 20 networks around the world, with particularly strong coverage in Europe and the Middle East, but also in Asia and the US where our Flow Optimization tool is used by most of the major OTTs and CDNs.

Flow Analytics is our flagship product. It’s very intuitive to use and easy to share. We have designed it to be highly scalable and very hardware efficient. That makes it more cost-effective compared to the competition. Customers generally use it to generate additional revenue and reduce peering, transit and backbone costs.

What’s the thinking behind a hosted model of BENOCS on NL-ix?

Jerry: It’s quite a new idea to offer a hosted software-solution on an IX, but this is a new model for which NL-ix sees a lot of future value. Running on NL-ix’s stable, resilient pan-European network makes BENOCS more accessible to a huge number of networks as well as more reliable. There’s no need to operate any hardware and software on top.

Does BENOCS benefit from being on the NL-ix platform?

Stephan: Yes, hugely. Firstly, running on NL-ix makes the product much easier to deploy and accessible in about 100 NL-ix-enabled data centers the length and breadth of Europe, you just plug in and run it.

Also, Security is a major plus. For a proper analytics tool, You need to transmit intimate network data over a secure channel.

Then there’s stability – it’s vital not to lose any packets. The NL-ix network makes this possible because as well as being fast it is very widespread, very secure and very stable.

Running on NL-ix makes the product much easier to deploy and accessible in about 100 NL-ix enabled datacenters the length and breadth of Europe, you just plug in and run it

Stephan Schroeder - CEO @ BENOCs

NL-ix uses BENOCS how useful could it be for your customers?

Jerry: “One of the greatest benefits is that you don’t need to be hugely technical-minded to use it – you don’t need to understand much about BGP in order to make very informed decisions on your traffic flows Without a tool like Benocs network operators only get a partial or sliced view - one exchange then another then an IP Transit route. For instance, we could only log in to portals separately to see what was happening there. Even then these portals would only show details on e.g. the NL-IX port, not on those of other IXs. Now with BENOCS these hidden streams are visible and you can see the bigger picture.

This is hugely valuable for quality improvement. For instance, if you can see traffic tromboning from Germany to Amsterdam you can do something about it. Also for cost. When you see how the traffic flows you can strip out the less cost-efficient elements by making separate agreements with peers. If you see a lot of traffic running over an expensive IX port you can reroute it to a more cost friendly alternative or you can change an IP Transit upstream path.

While some of the larger networks might want to host their tool on-premise, this is not always viable for every network. An offer as a hosted solution based on al already existing Peering port makes this very cost efficient and easy to configure.

In the future we would like to optionally integrate some of our exchange flow data to enhance the insights from the tool and its usefulness to customers. It’s part of continuously moving towards greater transparency – our aim here as elsewhere is to make traffic flow absolutely transparent. We want our customers to be able to make informed and intelligent decisions rather than operating in the dark. In a nutshell, there’s huge potential for both the BENOCS tool and the distributed model. We want to work with partners like BENOCS to help our customers get a better grip on their data.”

Tell us more about the workshop

Stephan: “We typically give these workshops to teams and individuals, and have yet to give one at this size. The extent of the NL-ix community will hopefully make it a worthwhile exercise because it’s very far-reaching and also bang on target for BENOCS.

There will be two workshops on two dates so that people can pick a slot that suits them – they are Tuesday 23rd March and Thursday 25th. The workshop lasts just 90 minutes. It will tell you about the product and how to use it, but it will also be an interactive session covering daily-life challenges. The toolkit was built in response to use cases and that is how it has developed, so the workshops will be as much an information exchange as a pitch or a how to.”

Jerry: “It is important to know that the event is free and open to all. You don’t have to be a customer of either NL-ix or BENOCs, you can just tune in to find out more. We would like these events to be available to the widest possible community so that we can get as much information flowing as possible.

Stephan Schroeder - CEO @ BENOCs