When it comes to networking, be it service provider, enterprise, public or private cloud or hybrid, what matters most is performance. If you are a network administrator, knowing the operational health of your network in real time is a function of the quality of tools you use to measure performance, report and analyze anomalies, remediate issues and gain intelligence that enables you to take proactive measures to mitigate risks.
You literally need to know how to tap into “E”verything that is happening. This means having network taps that allow monitoring and managing what is going on in real-time with network hardware, software and services and doing so from the device level, over the LAN, through the firewalls and onto the WAN, and all of the spaces in between up and down the stack.
The questions that arise, given your tools investment, are whether you have the right ones and if they are being managed to perform optimally. You have a huge investment in such tools. It is an investment that will increase for a host of obvious reasons. After all, we live in a world that is going more and more online, and securing that environment while providing internal and external users compelling experiences is critical to sustainability and success. However, are you really getting what you need from them? Could their improved performance provide significant CapEx and OpEx reductions while actually increasing your ability to manage and mitigate risk?
During a recent webinar, “Bringing ROI & Network Packet Brokers: Bring Visibility, Efficiency and Savings to Network Monitoring,” Andy Huckridge (News - Alert), Senior Director, Telecom Strategy & Marketing for VSS Monitoring joined me to look at the emerging Network Packer Brokers (NPBs) sector and what it can mean for network administrators.
NPBs: what they are, do and why they are important
To paraphrase a commercial for a bank in the U.S. that is currently popular, “what’s in your tool kit?” If you are a service provider or operator of a large enterprise network here is what may surprise you is an abbreviated list:
Performance analytics tools: for such activities as network fault detection, app performance management, video / VoIP analysis, network discovery, flow data and meta data.
Inline acceleration tools: designed to track WAN acceleration, QoS / packet shaping, data compression, SSL Acceleration, Web acceleration, and web caching.
Inline security tools: covering such things as data loss prevention, intrusion prevention (IPS), next-gen firewalls, secure web gateway, DDOS prevention and advanced persistence.
Security analytics tools: protecting the network through such capabilities as data recording, compliance auditing, intrusion detection (IDS), lawful interception, network forensics and deep packet inspection (DPI).
As noted, this is a huge investment that technologic change, growing operational responsibilities and complexities, and business imperatives (including compliance) can only grow. But it needs to grow in a reasoned and reasonable manner. This means tools must be high-performance and provide the actionable intelligence needed to protect assets and please users efficiently and effectively. The challenge is that the tools above exist in silos. This means extraction and use of valuable data is not optimized and the cost for the care and feeding of these silos is a major headache.
In short, as the graphic below shows this is precisely where NPBs fit.
The NPB appliance deployed in a network feed information into a digital dashboard for real-time views of the performance of all of your tools. This allows for extraction of critical data for monitoring, remediation and planning, along with the optimization of the entire arsenal of tools at your disposal.
Benefits VSS Monitoring (News - Alert) has been able to demonstrate include:
- Up to 120-percent increase in application availability
- Up to 80-percent reduction in capital expenditures
- Up to 50-percent reduction in operational expenditures
Other benefits cited range from lowering meant time to repair, being tool vendor agnostic, and the preservation of existing investments.
The value of NPB optimization
While analyst firms have been enthusiastic about the need for NPBs, particularly the ROI and TCO stories, from an operational perspective one chart in the presentation stood out that should resonate with network administrators.
At the end of the day optimization is summed up in the term “Send Only Actionable Data to Each Tool.” Networks after all are dynamic entities. The need to have the right information, in the right place, at the right time, for use by the right individuals is how optimization is achieved. It is never just about technology, but is always about how it is used and it value fully realized.
It is difficult to imagine a scenario where network performance is optimal if the tools for monitoring and measuring performance are not operating optimally. This appears to be a case of subtraction by addition, i.e., the addition of NBPs may add a layer but reduce the pain and costs of managing silos of information sub-optimally, while providing improved and actionable operational insights.
It is not surprising that research firms are paying attention to the space. The webinar is a great place for you to find out more.
Edited by Braden Becker