Barefoot Networks Launches Deep Insight™, Enabling Network Owners to See What Every Packet Is Doing. To the Nanosecond.

Deep Insight monitors every packet, at line-rate, without generating extra network traffic. Uses big data analytics to detect failures in real-time.

Palo Alto, California, UNITED STATES

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec. 05, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Barefoot Networks today announced Barefoot Deep Insight, the world’s first network monitoring system to provide full visibility into every packet in a network. Barefoot Deep Insight software, running on commodity servers, interprets, analyzes and pinpoints a myriad of conditions that can impede packet flow, and does so in real time and at line-rate. An intelligent and programmable triggering mechanism allows only the interesting network events to be detected and reported in real time. Irrelevant data is automatically filtered out. Machine learning can be employed to achieve stateful baselining of the network performance and automatic detection of anomalies at any time scale and with nanosecond resolution.

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In networks, today, even the very simplest questions regarding visibility are impossible to answer. For example, if we examine a data packet in the network and ask, “How did this packet get here?” and “How long was it delayed at each switch, router and firewall along the way?”, there is no way to tell. This is because most networks still use the same tools as 20 years ago: traceroute, ping, SNMP and NetFlow. At best, we can find statistics based on samples. This isn’t enough to capture a transient event, such as a microburst, and track down its root cause.

First to Deliver the Four Ground Truths of Comprehensive Network Monitoring

A breakthrough in network monitoring, Barefoot Deep Insight is first to provide the four ground truths for every packet in the network:

  1. How did it get here? The sequence of switches the packet visited along its path.
  2. Why is it here? The set of rules it matched upon at every switch along the way.
  3. How long was it delayed? The time it spent buffered in every switch, to the nanosecond.
  4. Why was it delayed? The packets, flows and applications that the packet shared each queue with.

Armed with this information, Deep Insight detects almost any anomaly in the network. For example, it can detect microbursts, however short, and answer all the above questions about every packet in the microburst. It can identify which application is causing congestion, whether a packet is in a part of the network it doesn’t belong, and if an ECMP is not load-balancing equally. It can even present the operator with individual dropped packets, and say why they were dropped. All of this at line-rate and multi Tb/s throughput without extra hardware, or extra packets. Anomalies are typically detected within 100 microseconds, yet can be captured and post-processed for up to a month. Deep Insight has been successfully evaluated and is production qualified at large customers including ones in cloud and enterprise markets.

“Network monitoring is still stuck in the dark ages,” said Nick McKeown, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder, Barefoot Networks. “To get detailed visibility, some network owners are forced to deploy a second network that costs more than the first, just to watch what their network is doing. With Deep Insight, every switch in the network gathers data for you without any additional hardware, and without generating additional traffic. Deep Insight sits at the network edge, detecting and reporting network anomalies. Nothing like this has been possible before.” 

“Only Barefoot Deep Insight, running in tandem with Barefoot’s breakthrough P4-programmable switch chip, Tofino, can achieve accuracy down to the packet and the nanosecond, making network problems visible for the first time,” added McKeown.

“As Tencent's network scales to better support business growth and delivery of new services, the ability to detect incidents like microbursts and latency variations in real-time is critical to network operation,” said Tom Bie, Vice President, Technology & Engineering Group, Tencent. “With Barefoot Tofino and the In-band Network Telemetry capability, we can see anomalies as they occur, enabling us to root cause and remediate in record time, thereby significantly improving the performance of our network.”

Use Cases

Financials and Enterprises: Applications in trading environments are bursty in nature, with high throughput and a short lifespan. Such microbursts are impossible to detect using standard network management tools, involving control plane or leveraging NetFlow, as they last only a few microseconds.  Financial institutions and trading firms are often liable to their customers if a transient performance issue causes traffic loss or a delay in the execution of a transaction. As a result, they need the ability to quickly root cause such conditions by identifying the aggressor flows and quantify the impact of any performance issue by identifying the dropped packets or the delayed transactions.

Similarly, in enterprise data centers, many-to-one communication patterns commonly found in application frameworks such as Hadoop and HDFS can result in congestion, queue build-up and increases in end-to-end latency.

Tofino’s P4-programmable forwarding plane detects a queue build-up and takes a snapshot of every packet header during a congestion event. Snapshots are filtered, optionally coalesced, and delivered to the Barefoot Deep Insight Analytic Engine. The Deep Insight engine can then quickly analyze such anomalies and visualize the full dynamic of a congestion event, down to each individual packet, exposing the aggressor and the victim flows.

NFV and SDN: Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture where network services and functions are virtualized into generic elements that can chain together to create an agile architecture that is easy to manage and orchestrate. SDN technology follows a similar approach, decoupling networking function from the physical infrastructure and providing a centralized view of the distributed network for more efficient orchestration and automation. In such environments it is very hard to pinpoint performance issues throughout the service chain.

With Tofino and Barefoot Deep Insight, customers can easily triangulate performance issues in a service chain to switches, NICs or Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), and measure the performance degradation to identify impacted applications and flows. In such an architecture, Smart NICs can be leveraged to extend visibility into highly virtualized environments with VMs or containers.

P4 Simplifies Programming and Customization

P4, the powerful language that allows developers to build and customize the behavior of their designs in silicon, is a key component in deploying Deep Insight.  Developers can pre-package P4 programs on a switch to execute the features they require, eliminating the need to develop data-plane code. They can also manage data-plane features via a switch OS integration and employ the Barefoot Deep Insight network analytics dashboard to monitor network events.

Thanks to the P4 programmability of Barefoot’s Tofino chip, changes to the data-plane monitoring functionality are straightforward to implement in Deep Insight. Users can ask their OEM provider, switch OS vendor or Barefoot for these modifications, or can implement them themselves. This flexibility allows users to design for use cases that would otherwise require years of development and implementation into networking ASICs.

"Our research shows that enterprises are looking for new, streaming telemetry solutions to improve network operations, especially enterprises that are transforming their data center networks,” said Shamus McGillicuddy, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Management Associates. “There is a strong need for a network performance monitoring solution that gives deep insights and accurate visibility, packet-by-packet, into both network traffic and infrastructure to prevent and remediate outages and performance degradation."


Barefoot Deep Insight is available now to key customers and partners. Pricing follows a pay-as-you-grow model, where customers pay only for the volume of telemetry they need. Subscription-based licensing enables customers to make a balanced investment with limited commitment and no upfront CAPEX.

For more information, contact Barefoot at or visit Barefoot Deep Insight Product Page or attend the upcoming Barefoot Deep Insight Webinar

About Barefoot Networks
Barefoot Networks launched in 2016 after two years of developing technology that built switch silicon with a forwarding plane that is defined in software while not compromising on performance. Barefoot empowers network owners and their infrastructure partners to design, optimize, and innovate to meet their specific requirements and gain competitive advantage. In combining the P4 programming language with fast programmable switches, Barefoot has also created an ecosystem for compilers, tools, and P4 programs to make P4 accessible to anybody. Barefoot Networks is headquartered in Silicon Valley and is backed by Google Inc., Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments, Alibaba, Tencent, and by premier venture capital firms Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Andreessen Horowitz. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter: @barefootnetwork. Follow us on Facebook: Follow us on LinkedIn:

Barefoot Networks, the Foot Logo and Tofino are trademarks of Barefoot Networks.

Editorial Contact
Caitlin Haskins
+1 415-800-5369

Barefoot Deep Insight - End to End System View Barefoot Deep Insight - Real-Time Queue Occupancy Barefoot Deep Insight - Microburst Analysis (Aggressors and Victim flows) with Packets Drops