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.

Networking

‘Mind the gap’ is an automated announcement used by London Underground for more than 50 years to warn passengers about the gap between the train and the platform edge.

It’s a message that would resonate well in IT operations. Enterprises increasingly rely on “work from anywhere” (WFA) infrastructure, software as a service (SaaS), and public cloud networks. In this complex platform mix, visibility gaps can quickly surface in the performance of ISP and cloud networks, along with remote work environments.

Gaps are also inherent in today’s IT standard operating procedures. Network teams follow a certain set of rules to begin troubleshooting and ultimately isolate and fix issues. If these standardized workflows are missing core features, or teams need multiple tools to run these troubleshooting procedures, this can quickly result in delayed remediation and potential business disruption.

Dimensional Research, for example, reveals that 97% of network and operations professionals report network challenges and 81% confirm network blind spots. Complete outages (37%) are the worst problem, although network issues have also delayed new projects (36%).

So how can IT operations close the gap? The enterprise needs network monitoring software that reaches beyond the data center infrastructure; providing end-to-end network delivery insights that correspond with users’ digital experience.

It’s time to re-think network monitoring. These are four key capabilities network professionals should consider for a modern network monitoring platform.

User experience: Moving business applications to multi-cloud platforms and co-located data centers makes third-party networks a performance dependency. Digital experience monitoring along the network, between the end-user and the cloud deployments becomes a necessity to ensure seamless user experiences.Scale: Demand for SaaS, unified communications as a service (UcaaS), contact center as a service (CcaaS), and the WFA culture is rapidly expanding the network edge. Network professionals need to harness the complexity and dynamic nature of these deployments.Security: The modern WAN infrastructure involves technologies such as software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), next-generation firewall (NGFW), and much more. Misconfigurations can easily be missed, resulting in performance issues or security breaches.Visibility: The remotely connected workplace introduces a new, uncharted network ecosystem. Visibility into these remote networks such as home WiFi/LAN is at best patchy, making issue resolution a guessing game.

The bottom line? IT teams need a complete, efficient view of their network infrastructure, including all applications, users, and locations. Without it, IT risks losing control of operations, ultimately eroding confidence in IT, and potentially forcing decision-makers to reallocate or reduce IT budgets.

Now is the time to rethink network operations and evolve traditional NetOps into Experience-Driven NetOps. With Experience-Driven NetOps, network teams can proactively identify the root cause of problems and isolate issues within a single tool that enables one-click access to all their standard operating procedures through out-of-the-box workflows and user-experience metrics. This industry-first approach delivers digital experience and network performance insights across the edge infrastructure, internet connections, and cloud services, allowing teams to plan for network support where it matters most.

Maybe it’s time for that “mind the gap” announcement to be broadcast in IT departments? With a possible slight change to, “mind the growing void” to ensure networks are experience-proven and network operations teams are experience-driven.

Tackle the new challenges of network monitoring in this eBook, 4 Imperatives for Monitoring Modern Networks. Read now and discover how organizations can plan their monitoring strategy for the next-generation network technologies.

Networking