Network Troubleshooting in Next-Gen Environments

network troubleshooting

Like most everything having to do with networks these days, network troubleshooting has changed dramatically. Part art and part science, the task of network troubleshooting has always been complicated and challenging. But now that so many organizations have embraced software-defined networking and shifted various IT and network operations to the cloud, the troubleshooting task now seems to require special magic.

The truth is that you don’t need Harry Potter’s wizard wand to achieve effective troubleshooting in modern network environments. You just need the right technology. Specifically, you need network performance monitoring (NPM) capabilities that are on par with modernized networks in terms of their speed, flexibility, and scalability.

To put it in context, consider what the troubleshooting job used to involve, how it has changed, and what it’s like now. And given the sophistication of modern networks, what advances in monitoring and troubleshooting have been made that enable IT and NetOps teams to keep the performance levels of their networks where they need to be. Let’s start with a look back.

Up until fairly recently, most of what network operations teams dealt with was physical gear. There were lots of rack-mounted servers stacked up in data centers, which were often owned and operated by the organization, and housed ‘on-prem’. Other big pieces of hardware, such as routers and switches, were also in the picture, placed in strategic locations throughout an organization’s facilities. To connect geographically dispersed offices, there were hard-wired WAN links that organizations may have owned or contracted for with a carrier or some other communication services provider. Also present were Wi-Fi infrastructure elements – earlier generations thereof.

Sure, owning and operating most or all of this physical hardware had some downsides. But at least IT and NetOps teams knew exactly what resources they had, where those resources lived, and who was responsible for them. Tech team members also knew which combinations of resources supported which business processes and workflows. So, when performance issues started to arise, those teams got at least somewhat of a jump on addressing them.

Part of that jump or head start was that it was often easy for network engineers to access resources directly. They could walk down the hall to the data center and look at the switch or router in question.

With the detailed information about fairly static network resources, and the ability to go into ‘hands-on’ mode quickly and easily, teams had a leg up on network troubleshooting. They could put together topology maps and playbooks, and refer to them when performance trouble cropped up. This combination of information, tools, and physical access was what teams used to resolve network performance problems. At most organizations, troubleshooting teams were generally very successful. More often than not, they were able to quickly locate, diagnose, and fix whatever issue was occurring.

That was then, and this is now.

New Network Architectures, New NPM Troubleshooting Requirements

To meet their networking requirements and increase their business agility, many carriers, MSPs and enterprises are going the software-defined route.

For some, they’ve gone all in with software-defined networking (SDN). By adopting this network architecture approach, they’re able to manage their networks using the intelligence and automation that is built in to SDN software solutions. Using SDN, operators can manage their entire networks more efficiently and holistically, regardless of the underlying network gear and technology.

Other companies are taking a phased approach and ‘software-defining’ only parts of their network environments. One example is WAN segments. Organizations are replacing their inflexible and expensive MPLS-based WAN links with SD-WAN connections. By moving to SD-WANs, enterprises, service providers and other organizations can separate network traffic management away from their hardware and on-premise facilities. Instead, they can handle it with cloud-based, software-defined capabilities that can change dynamically to enable optimal delivery paths. With SD-WAN’s intelligent routing policies, operators get dynamic network traffic management, and greater agility and cost-effectiveness.

With all of their speed, dynamic actions, abstracted processing and remote resources, these next-gen, software-driven environments have fundamentally changed the network troubleshooting function. Of course, the pre-requisite for any effective troubleshooting regimen is effective network monitoring. Simply put, that means having:

  • Broad coverage – so operators can collect data from all types of devices, from the biggest physical routers, to the most ephemeral, virtualized network resources,
  • End-to-end visibility – so operators can get the big picture, a holistic view of what’s going on in their networks, and manage them as the unified systems they are,
  • Advanced analytics – to quickly process the massive amounts of data next-gen networks generate to provide operators with the insights they need to tackle performance problems,
  • Easy, intuitive sharing – to help operators share insights and other pertinent data with other people in the organizations, or perhaps with customers or partners.

Meeting these key monitoring and troubleshooting requirements is no small feat with software-defined networks and network resources. But that is, in fact, what that SevOne Network Data Platform and the solutions based on it can do.

Take the SevOne SDN Monitoring Solution, for example. It integrates directly with SDN offerings’ control layer and the underlying physical infrastructure for complete visibility into all the network resources in the SDN deployment. The integration enables operations and engineering teams to instantly see and understand the overall health and performance status of both the virtual (overlay) and the physical (underlay) components of an infrastructure, as well as the relationships between them.

Another example is the SevOne SD-WAN Monitoring Solution. It provides complete visibility into SD-WAN deployments, and the same for mixed legacy and software-defined WAN operations. The solution enables users to collect, analyze and visualize performance metrics, traffic flows, event logs and application end-user experience data across the entire WAN infrastructure at scale.

Exactly how does the SevOne Network Data Platform and the solutions that are based on it handle these complex and demanding troubleshooting tasks?

We’d love to answer that for you, but space constraints preclude us from doing so here. However, we can show you how our technology works, and answer all of your questions in a demo setting.

Why not set aside 30 minutes of your time to learn more about the industry’s most powerful and advanced network performance monitoring solution? Doing so will also get you answers to those questions you’ve had about how you and your team are going to manage and troubleshoot performance when all this software-defined stuff winds up in your camp – if it’s not there already.

Got a half-hour to spare?  Schedule your demo today. We guarantee that you’ll learn a lot.