As organizations continue their digital transformations, fundamental shifts are occurring that demand new approaches to network operations and network monitoring. In the recent NetOps Virtual Summit, industry experts discussed the changing landscape and solutions to the challenges NetOps teams are facing. In addition, leaders from Coty, NOS, and Providence Health discussed practical examples of how they are addressing these challenges.
Let’s take a closer look at some macro trends and explore how your organization can be prepared.
The internet is becoming the new enterprise network
Many NetOps teams have focused their network monitoring on the part of the network experience that is under their control – inside the data center. But that can be very limiting and misses a big part of the picture. The increasing usage of cloud apps is one reason that looking just inside the data center is insufficient. At the summit, Shamus McGillicuddy of EMA stated that “The average NetOps team can trace 40% of all traffic on its network to external cloud resources."
Employee access to cloud resources is part of creating a visibility challenge, but equally as important is the fact that employees reach these cloud apps and enterprise apps from an increasingly varied set of locations. If you have 5,000 employees working from anywhere, you effectively have 5,000 networks to monitor.
Indeed, the internet has become the new enterprise network, and NetOps teams need to find ways to achieve visibility anywhere – including 3rd party or ISP networks. It’s critical that NetOps teams address the loss of visibility and control and establish visibility into the cloud and 3rd party networks. Organizations need to adopt solutions that integrate the end-to-end visibility of network experience into their traditional NetOps tooling to help establish visibility anywhere.
Work from Anywhere will replace work from home
During the beginning of the pandemic, enabling work from home was a key focus for NetOps teams. As the pandemic moderates, employees are now traveling, working from offices, and working from home – i.e., working from anywhere. This hybrid work means employees demand consistent performance for their app experiences no matter from where they are working. According to EMA, organizations are retooling for hybrid work: “96% of IT organizations are budgeting for WFH network monitoring and troubleshooting tools," and that active, synthetic monitoring is becoming increasingly popular.
The rise of hybrid work is closely tied to an increased dependence on public internet connectivity, which is often dynamic and unreliable. Users conditioned to high-capacity enterprise environments often feel that even the most basic performance issues need to become IT support issues. However, traditional monitoring techniques cannot extend past company-owned infrastructure. This means that in order to ensure an optimal end-user experience in these new environments, network monitoring must evolve past passively capturing traffic and device metrics.
To manage end-user experience today, monitoring must include traditional tooling for internal apps and networks but also go beyond the firewall with active measurements that provide a full end-to-end picture of performance. This includes testing through any security measures to understand the impact on end-user experience. With both active and passive testing in place for the full app and network delivery path, IT can efficiently isolate the root cause of performance issues. To achieve this level of visibility, new approaches and solutions are necessary.
Security and networking convergence is increasing
In many organizations, network security teams and network management teams are separate. This can often lead to vendor sprawl, disparate monitoring, and incomplete visibility. It also can lead to old-fashioned finger-pointing. Increasingly, these domains are converging, and solutions are integrating. This convergence streamlines management and provides complete visibility. The blame game is reduced as there's a single point of monitoring truth which results in faster problem resolution and increased productivity for IT staff.
A simple example is solutions that provide a single point of monitoring for multi-vendor SD-WAN architectures. Another example is SASE adoption. Cloud apps and distributed resources benefit from a distributed security solution, which SASE provides. Organizations need an end-to-end view from the end-user to the cloud application, including any security services in between.
These centralized, converged solutions are needed because users expect secure and responsive direct-to-web experiences and expect positive user experiences to not be impacted by security layers.
Change is a constant, and NetOps teams need to evolve their tooling and approaches to keep up. Achieving network visibility anywhere, on-premises, in the data center, in the cloud, or from any network is a critical capability for success.
Yann Guernion is a Solution Specialist for NetOps at Broadcom Software.