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Has Your Network Troubleshooting and Monitoring Platform Aged Out?

According to a recent Sapio Research study, there’s a 20% chance that your business will suffer a network degradation or brownout today. When that happens, your department will spend about 2.5 hours tracking down the root cause and fixing it – time taken away from doing more productive tasks.

For many CIOs and/or IT managers, this may be an eye-opening moment when relying on older technologies and solutions to troubleshoot network incidents. Traditional troubleshooting tools won't suffice in today's complex hybrid network world due to limited insights and network blind spots.

One major reason is the rise of cloud applications. By 2023, 40% of enterprise workloads will be deployed in cloud infrastructure and platform services (CIPS), up from just 20% in 2020, according to Gartner.

In the process, IT departments have lost a lot of the visibility and capabilities they need to find and fix problems quickly — before employees and customers notice. In an EMA survey of network managers, only 36% said they believe their network monitoring tools for the cloud are up to par with their internal corporate network tools.

That EMA survey was conducted in early 2019. That means long before cloud workloads had doubled to today’s levels, many IT professionals already recognized the need for a new breed of cloud-native network monitoring and troubleshooting tools: ones capable of seeing through the complexity of hybrid public and private clouds to ferret out problems that traditional solutions miss.

Active monitoring is good, but proactive is best

When choosing a hybrid cloud troubleshooting solution, look for one capable of active, end-to-end monitoring, where the system periodically exchanges data between the on-prem box and the cloud application. This capability is critical for the proactive testing and identification of problems before they affect applications and users.

Passive monitoring solutions rely on the organization's everyday traffic to identify problems. So, when a link or node has problems, a passive monitoring solution won't be able to detect it until the employees or customers try to use it. That approach has big ramifications for the business's bottom line, such as lost sales because frustrated online shoppers abandon their carts - or employees who can't access the cloud applications needed to do their jobs.

IT department productivity also takes a hit because the help desk is flooded with complaints — and those are just the ones IT knows about. For every complaint call, there are many more customers or employees who don’t bother to report annoying performance issues. In fact, 60% of IT teams say end-user complaints are increasing and hurting productivity, according to the Sapio Research survey.

In fact, traditional passive monitoring solutions create and exacerbate cybersecurity vulnerabilities – because investigating and resolving all those trouble tickets distracts IT staff from other tasks, such as implementing software updates and patches to keep malware at bay.

Bridging NetOps and SecOps

What’s causing a slowdown or outage? Is it an overloaded node or link? If so, why is it overloaded?

The culprit could be a denial-of-service attack, malware run amok, hijacked IoT devices, or a myriad of other cybersecurity incidents. These often fly under the radar of traditional passive monitoring solutions, such that their visibility is limited to just 30% of a hybrid enterprise, where applications use a mix of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud, and public cloud. That leaves 70% of the network exposed.

By comparison, a network performance platform with built-in network detection and response (NDR) capabilities can see all 100% of network traffic, giving IT teams visibility into security-related or -driven performance issues. Now they can catch and stop cyber threats before those start to undermine productivity, user experiences, and the bottom line.

Finally, when security-related performance issues are caught early and resolved quickly, affected employees are less likely to use workarounds that create additional risks. One common example is using their personal cloud storage for proprietary company data and confidential customer information.

Where’s the weak link?

The pandemic increased not only the number of people who work from home but also the number who prefer that work style. Many employers share this preference because it reduces spending on office space and helps make their operations more resilient with a geographically distributed workforce.

The move to hybrid work and remote access underscores why enterprises must be able to monitor and troubleshoot the network links between the cloud and employee devices. These play a major role in user experiences and application performance. For example, the system should continually assess each link to ensure that it’s meeting KPIs for bandwidth, jitter, and packet loss.

Traditionally, these links were the LANs and WLANs in the enterprise’s offices and the telco connections between those enterprise networks and the cloud provider. The rise of remote work means many IT departments now have to monitor and troubleshoot a hybrid cloud serving a hybrid workforce, which increases complexity.

A monitoring system that can individually assess each link to determine, for example, whether the problem lies in the office LAN, the home WLAN, or the telco network connecting them to the cloud provider is invaluable. These granular insights help IT staff resolve trouble tickets faster and more efficiently than if they had to manually check each link to pinpoint the bad one.

Their non-IT colleagues also are more productive because they spend less time waiting for their trouble ticket to be resolved. Ideally, a trouble ticket won’t need to be created because the monitoring system flagged a nascent problem, enabling IT to resolve it before employees notice.

Putting it all together – Correlating data from multiple sources for full visibility

Another must-have capability is ingesting and correlating data from multiple sources. Cloud providers' monitoring tools stop at the cloud's edge, so the data they share with their enterprise customers provides an incomplete view. To get a holistic view, one major financial services firm chose a monitoring system that can ingest data from disparate sources: the cloud provider's monitoring system, its corporate network, and its service provider networks.

This firm’s monitoring system also can correlate that data even when each source presents it in different ways, resolutions, and frequencies. For example, a Meraki Wi-Fi monitoring system might provide information in bits, while Google's monitoring system might present it in bytes. This firm's monitoring system resolves those differences, so IT staff have clear, understandable information that they can act on immediately instead of having to manually correlate all that data.

The ability to take preventative measures is key - and it’s time to recognize that yesterday’s monitoring and troubleshooting tools no longer cut it in today’s world of distributed and hybrid cloud IT and zero-trust networks.

Michael Bacon is Accedian Director of Enterprise Solutions Marketing.

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