Guilty until proven innocent

Organisations are moving data, storage, and servers to centralised environments for greater control and lower costs

Tags: Cloud computingRiverbed Technology Incorporated
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Guilty until proven innocent
By  Taj Elkhayat Published  August 13, 2013

Corporate networks connect employees, customers, business partners, and support companies in day-to-day operations. They also serve as the platform for business growth. Yet networks are continuously evolving thanks to trends, such as cloud computing, virtualisation, and mobile computing. In response, organisations are moving data, storage, and servers to centralised environments for greater control and lower costs.

But as files and applications are moved farther from end users, latency and bandwidth issues begin to rear their heads, yet those users still expect complete reliability, stability, and performance from the network, whether they are in the office, on the road or working from home. Pinpointing the source of issues as they appear is trickier than many think.

The network visibility problem

The increased reliance on network connectivity means that whenever users cannot access their data, they usually point fingers at the network — often unfairly. While the network is sometimes the cause, a slowdown in application or network performance can often be caused by an unrelated issue, resulting in much frustration and tail chasing as network managers look to identify a cause of a problem that does not actually exist.

IT organisations would love to have complete visibility into their networks so they can resolve performance problems, preferably before they impact the business.

Unfortunately, the enterprises IT may only become aware of an issue when a user calls the help desk, and by the time they identify its source and set about fixing it, user frustration is often running high.

The problem is exacerbated for those who have little idea of what’s actually running on their networks: specifically the individual applications, servers, and employees that use the networks and what dependencies exist between them. This makes monitoring and troubleshooting difficult, particularly when planning IT projects such as consolidation, disaster recovery or cloud-based computing. It’s simply impossible to make network changes without disruption unless IT assets are properly discovered and mapped.

The solution: Analytics-based network performance management
There’s a better way for IT organisations to stay on top of their networks and it calls for proactive network management based on network behavioural analytics. When combined with an efficient discovery and dependency mapping process, organisations can quickly identify and respond to IT performance issues before they impact the business.

Analytics-based network performance management (NPM) solutions automatically baseline and track dozens of performance metrics, and send IT proactive alerts upon meaningful changes. IT can often respond before the user is even aware of degradations in application or network performance. And when concerns are reported, the source of the issue can be quickly identified, allowing IT managers to focus their efforts to resolve it.

Flow-based discovery and dependency mapping programs are another important piece of successful network performance management. Discovery is used to map IT assets and their dependencies. It identifies all the components — application servers, web servers, load balancers, databases, authentication servers, network components, etc – used to deliver an application as a service to the end user.

Understanding application dependencies not only makes it easier to pinpoint the source of performance bottlenecks, but it also means that IT consolidation, virtualisation, cloud initiatives, and other changes to the network can be made with confidence.

Results
Analyst firm IDC recently performed a study involving Riverbed Technology customers. IDC found that after a company implemented network performance management  tools, the average time taken to resolve an IT incident was typically reduced by 83%, while help desk call duration was cut by 8%. Overall, there was also one-third fewer downtime incidents per month, and average incident duration was cut by over half.

Furthermore, a comprehensive dashboard can provide more than just clear monitoring; it can also help with long-term planning and establish fair use network policies, which can significantly benefit end users and their organisations alike.

Conclusion
Managing a corporate IT network and maintaining high performance and security is an increasingly challenging task, with end-user productivity and application availability being visible indicators of the health of a business today.  Analytics-based network performance management solutions along with an approach that combines network and application monitoring enables IT organisations in the region to monitor and troubleshoot to find the root cause of the network and application issues before their end users know there’s a problem. By providing the IT department with the visibility and actionable insight to address problems almost instantly and therefore allocate network resources more efficiently, organisations can deliver unprecedented application and end-user experiences whilst driving consolidation, virtualisation and business impact.

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