Network Management Challenges, Opportunities, and Best Practices

Network Management Challenges, Opportunities, and Best Practices

This is part of the Solutions Review Premium Content Series, a collection of columns written by industry experts on maturing software categories. In this presentation, Broadcom SoftwareMatt Stevens, Director of Network Observability at Agile Operations, offers several network management challenges, opportunities, and best practices to consider.

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Enterprises today are transforming their businesses by adopting SaaS, migrating private applications to the cloud, and adopting work-from-anywhere approaches, while replacing traditional security and VPN approaches with Zero Trust and Secure solutions. Access Service Edge (SASE). As a result, the Internet has become the new business network. And that has given rise to a complex challenge: how can organizations effectively monitor and secure the new network when employees can connect from anywhere using any device at any time?

Organizations must achieve end-to-end visibility from corporate data centers to the cloud and network edge, as well as across all networks used by their employees. Traditional NetOps can help, but active and passive testing across the entire network path, including third-party networks, is the key to extending visibility anywhere employees connect to the network.

DEMS to the rescue

While the benefits of network monitoring are widely known, today’s decentralized network presents unique challenges that go beyond what traditional NetOps can do. Historically, visibility and control for most performance management teams ends at the edge of the corporate network. But the modern network is borderless, dynamic and constantly evolving. Organizations’ inability to monitor third-party networks, such as cloud networks and last-mile ISPs, creates blind spots that can make it difficult to identify the cause of network degradation or failure.

Network-centric digital experience monitoring (DEM) has emerged as an effective approach to ensuring that the digital network experience can meet the needs of end users and provide the necessary performance visibility for IT. Many IT professionals recognize DEM as an approach to ensuring application performance, but as more applications move to the cloud, the most important component of successful digital experience delivery along the delivery path between IT and end users is the network. Visibility and control of that path from the end user to the data center and beyond is critical to ensuring a great digital experience.

DEM combines traditional NetOps with end-user experience visibility to enable IT teams to monitor and identify performance issues such as latency, jitter, or packet loss along the digital path. Teams can see specific employees accessing the network, where they are, and what device they are using. They can also pinpoint specific performance issues and determine if it’s an ISP issue, how widespread it is, and if it’s affecting many employees or just a few. This data allows the IT team to troubleshoot and resolve the issue.

Consider the example of a hospital in the northwestern United States that had transformed to a hybrid cloud infrastructure to modernize its digital experience. To ensure success, network operations staff needed the ability to track performance from end to end in the service provider cloud and back, giving teams the autonomy and validity to accelerate MTTI and the MTTR.

Before the pandemic, the hospital conducted 10 telemedicine visits per day. Once the pandemic hit, it jumped to 10,000. By leveraging DEM, the IT team can monitor network performance all the way to the end user to ensure a great patient experience.

Ensuring a strong digital network experience is only part of the story. According to Gartner, by 2025, 70% of digital business initiatives will require I&O leaders to report on digital experience business metrics, up from less than 15% today. digital transformation, reduced employee productivity, and inefficiencies for IT.

DEM solutions can also help IT align technology KPIs with business metrics such as revenue, churn, and NPS. And understanding how end users operate within the organization can help improve those same KPIs. Employees who continually experience suboptimal network performance may struggle to meet their individual KPIs, for example. The network-centric DEM allows teams to measure how well they are doing in delivering services.

Monitoring the digital experience is key to the success of SASE

SASE is a strategy that combines network and security-as-a-service capabilities to improve network performance and security for users who can be anywhere, use any device, and need access to content and applications from corporate data centers and cloud platforms. Cloud. Unlike traditional perimeter-focused security, SASE focuses on protecting individual entities such as end users. This alone makes SASE a better fit for modern remote workforce security.

The transformation that is reshaping the new enterprise network to depend on the cloud and the Internet is also a double-edged sword, as security (SASE) must be integrated as part of this new network. Security inspection overhead, lack of visibility and control in security processing adds latency and performance issues, compromising the ability to achieve the desired outcome of cloud transformation.

What does DEM have to do with SASE? People rely on cloud-provided network services and thus add more and more security features to the cloud. As they do this, it becomes too complex and eventually network performance drops.

SASE shifts security functionality from the cloud to the individual entities that need it. DEM is needed for SASE to help with service degradation. Digital experience monitoring provides the intelligence that helps the security organization isolate the area where problems occur. As organizations advance their digital transformations with Zero Trust approaches using SASE solutions, it is critical to be able to measure before and after to ensure that the end user experience is not negatively impacted. Organizations don’t have to make trade-offs between security and user experience.

Getting started: key considerations

As with any implementation of new technology, there is a learning curve. Organizations just starting out with DEM should consider the following:

  • Use DEM to align network operations and security operations
  • Have monitoring before, during and after the transformation to establish a baseline of application performance before any changes, validate during the transition and this enables post-transformation comparison to ensure there is an acceptable level of impact on performance.
  • Take a proactive stance by employing continuous monitoring to alert IT of problems, even when users are not accessing the network.
  • While DEM can support SASE adoption, the DEM network also has the ability to support digital experience outside of SASE.
  • Choose a DEM solution that can meet the demands and scale of your business

There is no going back to the old ways of managing and controlling networks. The modern network has evolved far beyond the corporate data center and requires a modern approach to ensure the digital experience meets the needs of today’s network users and work-from-anywhere model. Network-centric digital experience monitoring provides the end-to-end visibility needed to ensure the digital experience is maintained and supports the adoption of SASE to ensure security in the modern cloud.

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