Driving a new car for the first time used to be easy. You stepped in, turned the key, let go of the handbrake, and off you went. Not so now. Once seated, you press a button – or should you turn a key? – checking your foot is on the footbrake. Looking for the handbrake, you realize it’s now a button. Then it’s into an unfathomable series of touchscreens to adjust ventilation, lane departure assistance, and even tune the radio.
Managing the enterprise network is similar. It was certainly less complicated than it is now. As long as key performance indicators (KPIs) such as uptime, packet loss, and latency were within limits, end users’ needs were being met. And if they weren’t, they would be the first to let you know.
Nothing stands still though. Network operations, like the automobile, operate in a modern complex world. And there are three key reasons for this. First, infrastructure and applications now extend into the cloud, where as-a-service components managed by third parties occupy the same ecosystem as on-premises hardware and software. It’s a dense hairball of infrastructure and applications.
Second, the hybrid workforce works from anywhere. Each individual represents its own office of one, requiring all of the due diligence associated with remedying an entire branch location on a per-user basis when network problems arise. Third, now that the enterprise is reliant on distributed workplaces and the cloud, conventional networking models that backhaul traffic to the data center are increasingly inefficient. Ultimately, the Internet has become the new enterprise network.
Only 18% of organizations trust their cloud monitoring tools
Gone are the days when network teams simply focused on rolling out traditional on-premises infrastructures. They now also support third-party operated networks and applications – and that requires a different set of skills. The evidence supports this: The recent EMA Research Megatrends report for example, noted that, ‘99% of enterprises have adopted public cloud, but only 18% described their tools as very effective at monitoring the cloud’. The alarming conclusion is that most network professionals are ill-equipped to support the avalanche of new technology. This cascades down into slower technology adoption and deployment, together with increased business risk.
The bottom line is that legacy network monitoring tools fail to equip network professionals with the modern capabilities needed to manage the new network. So why is this the case?
- Limited Feedback
Networking technology trends echo data center trends. Programmable, software-defined, and cloud-based network environments have made agile networks a reality through the use of infrastructure-as-code and automation. As network teams are pressured to increase the pace of innovation, traditional monitoring practices don’t help them to understand the actual user experience variations introduced by more frequent changes. The feedback they need to validate deployments and pinpoint issues before they impact end-users simply isn’t there.
- Blind Spots
Explosive growth in new technology adoption, soaring complexity, and more network traffic flowing beyond the edge of the data center create unprecedented visibility gaps. A global survey by Dimensional Research, for example, reveals that 81% of organizations report network blind spots. Faced with reduced visibility into the networks that deliver applications to users, IT is forced to resort to status pages and support tickets to determine if an outage does or does not affect end-users.
- Suboptimal Triage
Network professionals typically follow a set of standard operating procedures to triage network performance issues. They ping, then traceroute, open trouble tickets, and escalate issues to engineers or architects. Most use multiple tools and admin consoles to work through each step of the triage process. Moreover, many IT organizations continue to focus solely on network performance data rather than starting investigations with application and end-user experience metrics. As a result, network teams spend the bulk of their time firefighting up/down issues with no insight into the impact on the digital experience.
Let’s face the brutal truth. Network teams are now responsible for end-user experience along the entire network delivery path, regardless of infrastructure ownership. This disconnect between ownership and responsibility leaves network specialists triaging issues related to infrastructure they don’t own. Blind to the user experience at remote locations, they have no baseline to determine whether application problems require resolution or are just subjective complaints. Troubleshooting then quickly devolves into unproductive finger-pointing, and support tickets quickly accumulate, extending the mean time to repair. In the longer term, IT staff turnover rises as people feel the strain of falling further and further off target.
To move forward, network professionals must know where they are coming from. They need a clear line of sight into the end-user environment to understand the source of issues – whether it is on the application, network, or even the end user’s WiFi or device itself. Without a grasp of how end-user expectations are aligned with the performance at a given location, they have no reference point to improve network connectivity.
Customer Journey Management
There is an interesting parallel to make between network operations (NetOps) and customer journey management. In today’s digital economy, marketing and sales can measure most aspects of the customer interaction. It’s already been established that building experience-driven digital journeys is now the key to delivering more value and getting better customer satisfaction. In other words, experience-driven commerce enables you to drive customer engagement.
So, imagine what experience-driven NetOps could bring you as an IT organization?
If you’re investing in modern networking technologies to accelerate business transformation but still lack visibility into the end-user experience, you’re only solving half of the problem. Forward-thinking network management approaches such as experience-driven NetOps operationalize the new network, bringing digital experience directly into the network operations center (NOC). Network teams feeding end-user experience metrics into NOC standard operating procedures create continuous feedback, reduce blind spots, and triage events more efficiently. As a result, they drive greater end-user satisfaction while optimizing resources and costs of operations.
To stay in front of change, you have to adopt modern network monitoring approaches which are closely aligned with key business outcomes, improve the digital experience and make the IT organization a trusted partner to accelerate transformation. For that, you need to ensure your network connections are experience-proven and your network teams are experience-driven.
Now is the time for action. Operationalize the new network with modern network management.
Take the next step: explore Experience-Driven NetOps to discover how your organization can deliver comprehensive, mission-critical network visibility anywhere.