The data center has traditionally been the central spine of your IT strategy. The core hub and home for applications, routing, firewalls, processing, and more. However, trends such as the cloud, mobility, and pandemic-induced homeworking are upending everything.

Now, the enterprise is reliant on distributed workplaces and cloud-based resources generating traffic beyond the network, such as home working or cloud platforms. Conventional networking models that backhaul traffic to the data center are seen as slow, resource-intensive, and inefficient. Ultimately, the Internet is the new enterprise network.

If the core data center is the spine, then the wide-area network (WAN) has to be the arms, right? During the pandemic, a survey revealed that 52% of U.S. businesses have adopted some form of SD-WAN technology. Larger enterprises, like national (79%) and global (77%) businesses, have adopted SD-WAN at much higher rates than smaller firms.

But operational visibility is an essential component of an SD-WAN implementation because, unlike MPLS links, the internet is a diverse and unpredictable transport. SD-WAN orchestrator application policies and automated routing decisions make day-to-day operations easier but can also deteriorate the overall end-to-end performance. As a result, applications can run slower than before a corrective action, making troubleshooting these issues very difficult without additional insight or validation.

Visibility beyond the edge

Just think about the number of possible paths data can take to be delivered end-to-end. If you take the example of an organization having 100 branch offices, two data centers, two cloud providers, 15 SaaS applications, and using four ISPs – there are more than 7,000 possible network paths in use anytime. If the network team sticks to traditional network monitoring, limited to branch offices and data centers, it means the overall visibility is reduced to less than 2% of the estate (102 paths over 7000+). The lack of visibility beyond the edge of the enterprise network can leave network operations entirely out of control.

Additionally, most SD-WAN vendors only measure and provide visibility from customer-edge to customer-edge – basically, the edge network devices and the secure tunnels that connect data centers to branch offices, banks, retail stores, etc. In order to deliver a reliable and secure user experience over this new and complex network architecture, network professionals need end-to-end visibility; not just edge-to-edge.

Experience-Driven NetOps is an approach that extends visibility beyond the edge of the data center and into the branch site, remote locations, ISP and cloud networks, and remote users to provide visibility from an end-user perspective (where they connect to in the enterprise) rather than from the controller-only edge perspective. Furthermore, there are thousands of more network devices behind the edge of an SD-WAN deployment. Do you really want another tool to manage those devices too? 

Make no mistake, if you’re deploying new software-defined technologies but still lack visibility into the end-user experience delivered by these architectures, you are only solving half of the problem to deliver the network support your business expects. Today, reliable networks need to be experience-proven. And network operations teams have to become experience-driven.

You can learn more about how to tackle the new challenges of user experience in this eBook, Guide to Visibility Anywhere. Read now and discover how organizations can create network visibility across the network edge and beyond.