What’s next for network operations
By Serge Lucio, Vice President and General Manager, Agile Operations Division
This is a continuation of Broadcom’s blog series: 2023 Tech Trends That Transform IT. Stay tuned for future blogs that dive into the technology behind these trends from more of Broadcom’s industry-leading experts.
Enterprise networks are undergoing a profound transformation. These changes are being driven by growing SaaS adoption, increasing workload migration to the cloud, and the need to support the expanding number of employees who work-from-anywhere.
Traditional enterprise wide area networks, or WANs were designed primarily to connect remote branch offices directly to the data center. They rely on centralized security performed by backhauling traffic through the corporate data center, which impairs application performance and makes them expensive and inefficient. More importantly, WANs lack the flexibility and scalability that digital business requires.
Unlike traditional enterprise WANs, Software-Defined Wide Area Network, or SD-WAN technology meets the complex requirements for fast, reliable access to cloud-based resources. For example, SD-WAN technology makes it possible for an enterprise employee to successfully connect to Microsoft 365 from home. Policy-based routing dynamically determines the best path for optimal performance as it traverses multiple internet service providers and systems for network access, SASE secured connectivity, and cloud network access, before reaching the data center server where Microsoft 365 is running.
But SD-WAN’s reliance on the Internet can introduce new challenges, and new requirements for network observability and monitoring. Every ISP and system in the complex network path between users and cloud-based resources is a potential point of failure, most of which enterprise network operations teams do not own, manage, or even have visibility into.
On January 25, a minor error in a routine configuration change to a router at Microsoft caused a global network outage. This one minor error resulted in widespread connectivity issues for 90 minutes, leaving customers unable to reach Microsoft Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, and other applications. Situations like this can present a troubleshooting nightmare for enterprise network operations teams who need to address complaints from users, but don’t have complete end-to-end visibility of the entire network path from the user to the data center.
Looking Ahead: How I See Network Operations Evolving
I believe that in 2023, SaaS adoption, workload migrations to cloud, and work-from-home initiatives will continue to drive enterprise network transformation. The internet will become an even more integral component of the enterprise networks as organizations continue to augment or replace their legacy WANs by using SD-WAN technology to build high-performance chains of connectivity from lower-cost and commercially available Internet access.
As enterprises continue to transform and modernize their networks to better meet the needs of digital business, they will need a new approach to network observability, and requirements for in-depth analysis and actionable insights will become increasingly critical.
In 2023 and beyond, effective network operations (NetOps) will demand more extensive coverage of user experience metrics than ever before. Network monitoring needs will expand beyond traditional managed networks to encompass unmanaged third-party networks. Experience-driven NetOps approaches will proliferate and become more tightly aligned with the network. Here’s more on how this transformation will progress.
User Experience Monitoring Will Become Imperative
In response to the increasingly complex connectivity demands of digital business, network architectures continue to evolve, and user experience monitoring has become an essential data source for NetOps. This is not surprising, since customer satisfaction and employee productivity remain in the top three business priorities for many organizations. For the network team, it’s no longer just about the traditional approach to monitoring network health. Teams need real-time insight into the state of the network and how changing network conditions are affecting user experience so they can react quickly and ensure the delivery of consistent and high-quality network services to support that digital business success.
Monitoring Will Expand to the Edge and Beyond
As digital transformation goes to full throttle, network operations must align with the business more quickly and closely. With nearly half of enterprise workloads projected to be deployed in cloud infrastructure this year, NetOps team responsibilities will extend to both the networks they own and the ones they don’t – including third-party networks like home networks, ISP networks, and cloud environments. This extension will address the visibility and control blind spots that teams confront with cloud and multi-cloud networking.
Experience-Driven Approaches Will Advance
Teams’ increasing need for better visibility and control of both managed and unmanaged networks will drive adoption of Experience-Driven Network Observability and Management solutions and approaches. With this approach, the network team can understand, manage, and optimize the performance of digital services, regardless of the network they may be running on and gain visibility into every communication path and degradation point for the entire user experience delivery chain.
The adoption of experience-driven approaches will increase as organizations seek to improve their ability to monitor and measure the user experience. Gartner expects that by 2026 at least 60% of I&O leaders will use Digital Experience Monitoring to measure application, services and endpoint performance from the user’s viewpoint, up from less than 20% in 2021.
Applying active and continuous measurements can help network teams dramatically improve the network operations workflow. With these capabilities, they can effectively reduce false alarms, validate change and compliance, establish reliable visibility, and boost automation.
Monitoring Will Fuse Better With the Network
Experience-driven network monitoring tools and practices will become a seamless part of the network, translating volumes of disparate data (across network device performance, network and internet paths, alarms/faults/logs/configs, Cloud and SaaS application performance, network traffic flows and user experience metrics) into actionable insights about the current and future state of a network.
Outcomes That Matter
Moving forward, NetOps teams will be expected to deliver more value for the business, so they need to actively monitor and manage the network. By doing so, they’ll gain the detailed intelligence and actionable insights they need to assure network service delivery, and help the business reduce risks, optimize cost and resource efficiency, and boost revenue opportunities.
By delivering the right insights to the right team, they can quickly find and fix issues to improve mean time to resolution (MTTR) of network issues or prove the innocence (MTTI) of the network, while enabling the right team to address the issue. NetOps teams will then be able to proactively prevent network problems before they degrade user experience and derail the business.
Your Next Steps
This year, your organization’s success will be increasingly reliant upon the success of transformation initiatives in such areas as cloud, SaaS, and digitization. The question then becomes “How do you know if your network is ready for the emerging demands of the digital business?” NetOps teams play a critical role in helping these initiatives – and the business – succeed in 2023. Having unified insights to relevant network and digital experience metrics allows these teams to ensure that modern networks deliver optimized user experiences.
Broadcom can help boost your organization’s ability to manage evolving requirements for modern network technologies and support your current and future transformation initiatives. Visit our Experience-Driven NetOps page to learn more about how we are helping enterprise NetOps teams around the world to break down monitoring data silos, expedite issue remediation, and reduce operational complexities.
To learn more about how Broadcom predicts that in 2023, effective network operations (NetOps) will demand better end-to-end visibility, including more extensive coverage of user experience metrics than ever before, read the report here.
About Serge Lucio:
Serge Lucio is Vice President and General Manager of the Agile Operations Division at Broadcom. He is responsible for the company’s software solutions that help organizations to accelerate digital transformation and drive organizational agility.
IT Leadership, Networking