It’s Time to Start Upping Your Network Monitoring Game
Think about all the changes in networking and IT that have occurred over the past 15 -20 years. The dominance of the internet, ubiquitous smartphones, mobile everything, virtualization, the cloud, and more.
These and other advances have fundamentally changed our networks, and how we communicate and conduct business. It’s truly remarkable.
Equally remarkable is the fact that many organizations are still using the same network monitoring system they deployed back during the Clinton administration - or maybe even earlier.
That would be fine if those legacy monitoring systems could keep up, but that’s becoming a growing challenge for these aging systems. The changes mentioned above have outpaced their capabilities, but that’s not all. Even bigger changes are coming soon for the many organizations that are embracing Digital Transformation. They’re re-architecting their core business processes based on technology - not the other way around.
Lots of enterprises are already well along the Digital Transformation path. Others are in planning mode or just taking their first steps. Our assumption is that you, your team and your organization are somewhere on this continuum, either thinking about, embarking on, or in the middle of your transformational initiative. Since you’re on your way, we offer the following expert advice.
Modern Networks Require Modern Monitoring
First off, not all digital transformations are created equal. Varying widely from one company to the next, they can involve any number of new technologies, such as next-gen Wi-Fi, software-defined networking, multi-cloud, SaaS, virtualization, 5G and others.
What’s common across all of them, however, is the need to collect more types of data and much more of it, and process and analyze it very rapidly. There’s also the need to unify network-wide results, make the results intuitive and accessible, and make it actionable and useful – not only for IT staff, but also for executives and business-side employees.
Those are all things that modern network monitoring systems can do, but legacy systems really struggle to deliver.
Capabilities You’ll Need and Want
What do we mean by “modern” network monitoring systems? We’re referring to systems that are a fast, flexible and just as responsive as the dynamic networks they are designed to watch over.
Along with all the other factors you’re considering, think about how you’ll monitor and manage your new environment. Don’t make the strategic error of assuming your shop will be able to get by with legacy monitoring. That simply won’t work.
What your company will need instead is monitoring designed for these new environments. What does that involve, exactly? Here are some monitoring capabilities that will help your organization get the most from its new infrastructure.
- Comprehensive coverage – In addition to ‘old style’ monitoring of hardware-based devices, SNMP polling, device flows, etc., a system should be able to collect network and infrastructure metrics from new sources, like NFV, SDN, SD-WAN, next-gen Wi-Fi, backhaul, 4G/5G, and more, and combine it with other performance data, including flows, logs and UX information.
- Sophisticated analytics – The system should enable NetOps and IT staff members to zero-in on and understand issues quickly and with minimal effort. That means being able to apply various analytics and analytics policies to whatever device, object, or indicator they’re interested in or concerned about. Such analytics should be built-in to the monitoring platform, not a 3rd-party bolt-on.
- Adding context – Different network resources have varying degrees of importance to the business. Modern network monitoring systems recognize the status of devices, and factor that valuable context into results. This operational context enables users to quickly see and understand what is happening in their networks, especially with prioritized resources.
- Visualizations and reports – With networks now at the heart of most businesses, communicating network performance intelligence across an organization is key. Modern monitoring systems enable unified reporting across multiple sites and separate operational groups through the rapid generation of scalable and reusable reports and visualizations.
- Workflow creation – Customizable, reusable and shareable workflows enable teams to locate, diagnose, and resolve network problems more quickly – or prevent them from happening in the first place. Look for a modern monitoring system that offers powerful and flexible tools for creating customized workflows.
Your organization is making a major strategic pivot toward the future with a new software-driven, cloud-centric network as its foundation. Your 15- or 20-year old network monitoring system shouldn’t be invited to come along.
Things change, and your needs evolve. You wouldn’t bring that cruddy old sofa from your college apartment into that brand-new house you’re building. And you certainly don’t want to do the equivalent with the monitoring of your new digital infrastructure.
That’s my opinion. I’d love to hear yours.