Whether it is a customer making an online purchase or an employee working with a SaaS application, high-performance digital connectivity is a must. When these connected experiences are degraded or fail, it’s a big problem. These issues can have an immediate and dramatic impact on productivity, revenues, brand, customer loyalty, and more.

However, ensuring responsive, continuously available connected experiences keeps getting more difficult as networks grow increasingly dynamic, complex, and interrelated. Continued cloud adoption is leading to an increasing reliance on internet services, and on a complex mix of external service providers and technologies to deliver those services. These modern environments have introduced a number of blind spots for IT and network operations teams, leaving organizations exposed to laborious troubleshooting efforts and lengthy downtime.

There are three key requirements for enhancing connected experiences in today’s modern network environments. The sections below offer a high-level overview of each of these aspects.

#1. Identify Critical Network Paths and Track Quality

Network operations teams need to gain end-to-end visibility across their modern networks. Here are three key steps to acquiring this visibility:

  • Collect information about the network paths that are important to the organization. To start, teams need to understand their network architecture, looking at points of ingress and egress across the network. Equally important is to understand the elements of the overall network path that isn’t managed by internal teams, such as cloud services. Identifying different user personas and how they use the network is also important. And if external customers rely on services, teams need a view of where they are located.
  • Establish active monitoring to track network quality. Traditional monitoring methods gather passive device-level data, but these approaches are not possible when teams do not own or manage the network. Consequently, active monitoring is a must for understanding the quality of the network. By sending test packets across key network paths, teams can begin to get an objective, real-time view of performance. Active monitoring can help teams find out about potential problems at any time, and on any network.
  • Review the active monitoring in place. By actively monitoring key network paths, teams will gain visibility into network quality. As the network changes, administrators may also find that new visibility gaps emerge. By developing a regular cadence for the review and adaptation of the active monitoring in place, teams can continuously ensure network quality.

#2. Gain Visibility Into Internet Performance

Network operations teams must establish new techniques that help them gain the end-to-end internet visibility they need, so they can more efficiently isolate issues and more consistently avoid disruption.

When things go wrong, it is critical to identify the problem’s domain and who’s responsible for solving it—even if the issue arises outside of the team’s internal networks. The increased adoption of new technologies makes isolating issues difficult. Narrowing the scope is the first step.

By segmenting network traffic into specific domains of ownership, network operations teams can more readily identify who is at fault. Being able to gain visibility into these error domains is essential to reducing the mean time to resolution (MTTR) of issues.

It is important to map the full route and focus on these core error domains: end-user, last-mile ISP, mid-path or transit, and the application service provider. Each of these requires slightly different insight and is often owned by different external parties. By continuously determining the dynamic route between locations or between users and applications, network operations can build a better understanding of where traffic is flowing through the day, week, or month.

Metrics gathered across multi-technology, multi-vendor environments should be leveraged in a unified fashion, and delivered via reporting, dashboards, and APIs. Solutions for monitoring and observability should provide insights into how much network capacity is being used and where traffic is flowing. Techniques like advanced baseline monitoring and threshold functions should be employed, including capabilities for tracking deviation from normal and generating alarms based on time over thresholds.

#3. Validate Cloud Connections

Virtually every critical business service is now reliant upon the cloud in some fashion. That means every critical service is also reliant upon access to third-party networks. This can introduce visibility gaps that mean teams spend significant time trying to resolve application and network performance issues. Lengthy troubleshooting prevents network operations teams from spending time on more valuable strategic initiatives. Ultimately, this lack of visibility presents increased risk to the business.

To overcome these challenges, teams need to invest in a solution that provides the capabilities below.

Gain End-to-End Visibility Across Internal and Externally Managed Networks

Teams need evolved tools. Traditional passive monitoring tools need to be augmented with active monitoring capabilities. It is only with these combined capabilities that teams can gain the true, end-to-end insight required to map where traffic is going and determine where the root cause of performance bottlenecks is located.

Add Application Context to Network Insights

As applications become more diversified and users become more mobile, it is more critical than ever that teams understand the nuanced business context of complex applications. While users and support tickets will start by naming the slow application, it’s the job of IT and network operations teams to identify the root cause.

These teams have to know what apps are traversing the network and understand which ones are critical to the business. For internal networks and office environments, this can be done by looking at network traffic through techniques like deep packet inspection (DPI). Once apps are identified, network operations teams can create active testing to those apps to understand the network delivery paths between apps and users. The primary way to achieve this is through synthetic transaction monitoring.

Track SLAs for Networks and Services

With most modern apps and third-party networks, SLAs are no longer guaranteed. Therefore, when performance issues arise in external service provider environments, network operations teams need objective data to prove that. With active monitoring of any SaaS or web service, network operations teams can track performance and report on SLAs.


When issues arise and war room meetings are convened, network operations teams need to determine if their network infrastructure is to blame, and, if not, provide evidence that their environments are not the culprit. Gaps in visibility or data can make this task impossible.

Given these realities, it is now incumbent upon network operations teams to fully map the route traffic takes, continuously monitor performance over critical routes, and understand the full footprint of networks and applications.

To learn more, be sure to visit our network observability and management page, which features links to an assortment of extensive white papers focused on enhancing connected experiences.


PART ONE: 3 Steps to Accelerating your Network Transformations

PART TWO: 3 Keys to Optimizing Operations in Modern Networking Environments