Network management is undoubtedly crucial as there is a constant need to pin-point as well as fix the issues quickly whether it’s on premise or on cloud. The more complex and distributed a network becomes, the more alarms or alerts the system generates. Just knowing that something has gone wrong in your network is not enough, you should know the details like why it happened, when it happened, where it started, and what triggered it. The ability to detect, correlate & analyse events is one of the crucial points to resolve issues in the network and thereby reduce the impact on business.
Each & every part of the network generates data in high volume, which if analysed could give meaningful insights. Some examples for the same are as follows:
- OS gives out logs and security events
- Servers like any other network element keeps a record of what they do
- Application logs give information like errors, warnings & failures
- Firewalls & VPN gateways record network traffic which might be suspicious
- Network devices like routers, switches, etc. monitor activity between the network segments
- Messaging systems send alerts like SNMP traps to a centralised network management console
Every device has its own KPIs which should be constantly measured or monitored. Now, a single failure or issue may generate a blizzard of alerts & alarms. Considering you’ve a fairly big network, it becomes difficult to focus on the alarm that matters the most.
As it is rightly stated by Dennis, IT guys spend most of their time firefighting rather than focussing on the tasks which may affect critical aspects of business. In the absence of event correlation, IT teams have a hard time prioritising the troubleshooting process. Even a second’s delay can cost a business thousands of dollars. We’ve a blog around this topic, on why should you care about network downtime. Do read this before you move ahead with the current blog so that you’ve an understanding of the criticality of the issues we’re going to talk about.
Understanding Event Correlation
Correlation of events involves data collection in both – logs and metrics format. It then identifies relationship or interdependencies associated with them. Correlation is a way to algorithmically correlate related signals to quickly identify root cause of an issue. You can identify which resource is deviating from its usual behaviour pattern and remediate before an incident occurs. Early detection means fewer tickets which means reduced mean time to resolution. To sum it up, correlation offers wholesome context & logical analysis via a sequence of interrelated events or error logs.
Tools that are capable of performing event correlation (also known as alarm correlation) can later on perform actions, like sending alerts for failures, bottle-necks based on defined thresholds. Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Correlation have been IT professional’s favourite buzzwords since quite some time. These practices greatly assist IT teams to resolve issues quickly & at times it helps them in preventing the failures to further prevent any business impact or revenue loss.
You can take care of events via something as simple as sys-logging, which permits you to view new events as they arrive, but correlation is kind of a technique which relates different kinds of events with each other. This is often achieved with the use of intelligent and powerful network monitoring software or network management tool. Furthermore, correlating events or alarms can help IT security & Net Ops teams to focus more on the most important tasks.
Use Case of Correlation
Alarm or Event correlation is a way that relates numerous activities to identifiable patterns. If those detected trends or patterns threaten IT security, then an action can be imposed.
Some important use cases include:
- Threat detection in Real Time: Monitoring logs from antivirus software, monitoring suspected insecure ports & associated services then correlating them for an actionable threat intelligence.
- Reduce IT operational costs: Event correlation can help IT professionals automate processes like the analysis of huge work-flows to lower down the number of recurring alerts. IT teams can spend lesser time trying to make a sense of it all rather spend more time resolving critical yet immediate threats and save costs.
- Improves time management: Lesser resources are required as smart event correlation techniques can be really efficient. It ensures fast root cause analysis (RCA) hence timely resolution of IT operational issues. Event correlation contributes to IT automation in the overall network monitoring process.
Event Correlation Examples
While you want to filter out important alarms, you also need to enforce automated techniques that can determine relationships between complicated events. One good example of event correlation could be a case of intrusion detection.
- Perhaps there’s an employee account that hasn’t been accessed for years, and unexpectedly a massive number of login attempts are noticed. That account may begin executing suspicious commands. Through correlation, network monitoring software can generate an alert indicating that an attack is in progress.What if amongst the thousands of attempts of logins, one gets successful? Correlation then comes into play by pointing out the IP address of related suspicious events. With correlation you may notice that 15 minutes earlier – a port had been scanned and the IP address associated with the port scan and the login tries were the same. This is where context is delivered via correlation. As a matter of fact, in any given scenario, this might happen with even millions of events.If you perform manual correlation, you’ll need to rely upon luck more than skill – because you may need to find out the culprit while the clock is ticking, definitely hit and trial won’t work! Furthermore, you need to look how the pieces will fit in order to solve the puzzle.
- Another such instance could be – masses of alarms conveying that servers and associated elements are no longer reachable. Network Management tools can examine the records to determine the root cause of an issue, allowing the IT department to focus on implementing a solution instead of spending treasured time trying to pinpoint the reason.In complex IT environments, millions of events may be generated in a very short time duration. These activities can vary from important to generic. While a good IT admin can perform RCA on his own, this kind of information demands a lot of time and efforts.
Benefits of Event Correlation
Event correlation gives complete context and logical analysis out of a series of associated events. As a result, security analysts can make a thoughtful decision on what to do immediately.
This is about turning raw statistics into actionable alerts, alarms, and reports with the advantage of user-defined rules. Some of the advantages of using event correlation strategies include:
- Real time threat detection
- Ensuring overall network safety with round the clock monitoring
- Identification and remediation in just one click
- Consistent compliance reports
- Prevent potential risks
- Reduces IT operational costs
- Improves time & resource management
- Reduces workloads, time to act & business disruption
Event correlation is designed to identify events, make sense from them and assign them for appropriate corrective action. As the IT data becomes more complex, there is a dire need for correlation-based intelligence which will continue to rise in significance.
The way forward: Monitoring with AIOps
Event correlation truly is a blessing for IT teams for faster troubleshooting, holistic view of the IT situation, root cause analysis etc. As a way forward, try network monitoring tools which are robust enough to correlate alarms as well as logs for a better ROI. Motadata is coming up with AI powered network monitoring software which has event correlation along with anomaly detection, baselining, forecasting, outlier detection & lot more. To be the first one to know about its release drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org & we’ll make sure that you get the powerful tool right on time.