Network Performance Monitoring and Big Game Fishing

black marlin

In any type of endeavor where there’s a problem to solve, the best approach is always to get as much information as you can about all aspects of the that problem. Once you have all the data points collected, you take it all into consideration and analyze it from different perspectives. Then you arrive at a conclusion and take action.

This fundamental process is what makes network performance monitoring so similar to big game fishing.

Wait, what?  I know it’s an odd parallel, but it occurred to me during a recent conversation with a friend. Allow me to explain...

My friend, let’s call him “Junior”, is an avid saltwater fisherman. During our conversation, he described an experience he had in a recent, big game fishing tournament. It was one of those big boat, big money affairs in which the real pros go after really big fish – like blue marlin.

Junior started by telling me about all the latest electronics he and his crew used, and all the data and intelligence it gave them. They had top-notch gear across the board, including high-end GPS, a radar system sophisticated enough to spot flocks of feeding birds, fish-finding sonar capable of scanning down 500+ feet, NOAA data on wave heights, and wind direction and speed, and satellite weather data. He had historical catch data on species and locations, and Junior had his own experience and intuition. Looking at all the data, Junior decided where, when and how he was going to fish, and for which species.

Close but No Cigar

Junior and his crew did well, but they didn’t win. The 400lb. marlin they caught and released earned them only ‘Honorable Mention’ and a free round of drinks.

The captain and crew that won the tournament had all the same systems and data that Junior and his crew had. But the tournament winner had one data source that Junior didn’t have. He had real-time information about the surface temperature of offshore ocean waters. That extra set of data points let that skipper select a spot where there was a ‘temperature break’ – cool water right next to warm water, which attracts smaller baitfish and the bigger predators.

That’s how the other skipper caught and released a 750lb. black marlin, won the tournament and a big bag of cash and other prizes.

Getting All the Data

Obviously, big game fishing is different than monitoring and managing a modern network in nearly every aspect. But there are parallels. One is the comprehensiveness that’s required to ‘win’.

The first building block is comprehensive collection of performance information. Whatever your NPM strategy is, it starts with data collection. If you can’t monitor it, you can’t manage it. So, you need to “get all the data.”

But that’s tough to accomplish with today’s complex networks. To meet this requirement, your NPM system needs to encompass myriad technologies, including ‘software-defined and virtualized everything’, cloud-based resources, 5G, the Internet of Things, and much more. There are floods of performance data – lots of it real time – being facilitated by all these new technologies and generated by an ever-expanding galaxy of devices. This includes physical and virtual routers, switches, servers, and all kinds of other, next-gen network resources.

Then there’s all the performance data coming out of your legacy network segments and devices, some of which is historical and some real time. And let’s not forget that there’s not just real-time data but also historical performance data that needs to be gathered and processed.

Flexible and Scalable – From Both the Technology and Business Perspectives

With all these different inputs, your NPM system needs to be data agnostic, with high frequency polling down to the second. However, all that granular data collection is only useful if your NPM system can maintain that data for a long enough time period. That means your system should be able to store and maintain your performance data for as long as you need to get value from it. If your NPM system can’t scale with your data collection and storage needs, you’ll end up with significant network and infrastructure visibility gaps.

Your NPM system needs to be flexible and scalable enough to handle it all, and not just from a technology perspective, but on the business side as well. That means your system’s licensing terms need to be flexible enough to let you fold in coverage of new types of devices, resources, and technologies as needed – without blowing your budget

Comprehensive Data Collection: Just the Beginning

But the requirements for success don’t stop there. There’s new and improved ways to establish baselines for every metric you’re collecting, and for understanding what’s normal and what’s not. Then there’s the sophisticated analytics for uncovering valuable operational insights from your performance data. Last but certainly not least is reporting functionality. You NPM system needs to make it fast and easy for any user to generate and share compelling reports throughout the organization. Each of these functional areas merit their own blog posts, so we’ll revisit them later.

Conclusion

Circling back to my fishing buddy, Junior, he thought he “had all the data” going into his tournament. But there was one more element, one more data source, that he didn’t think to obtain, and therefore didn’t factor into his decision-making. As a result, his goal slipped through his fingers. Don’t let that happen to you with your network performance initiatives.

The SevOne Network Data Platform definitely won’t help you catch a huge marlin or a giant bluefin tuna. But it will enable you to meet each of the requirements described above with network performance monitoring and management capabilities that are unmatched in the industry.

To learn more, contact us today.

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