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    March 20, 2024

    Monitoring Software-Defined, Cloud, and ISP Networks

    Three Key Visibility Imperatives

    For decades, the data center has been the core hub for applications, routing, firewalls, processing, and more. Now, the enterprise is highly reliant upon distributed workplaces, cloud-based resources, and third-party-operated networks. In this context, modern networks encompass more diverse infrastructures, requiring IT organizations to contend with the added demands of managing and maintaining these expanding environments.

    As a result, network operations need to implement new approaches to understand and manage the performance of digital services running across software-defined and hybrid infrastructures. These approaches must bridge technology silos and extend monitoring reach into edge services, multi-cloud, and SaaS environments. Furthermore, network teams have to establish the visibility required to identify every potential degradation point across the end-to-end network delivery paths.

    More specifically, the Network Operations Center (NOC) needs to unify monitoring operations among a multiplicity of tools. This begins with comprehensive visibility provided by a platform that delivers insights into three key areas.

    1. Visibility into the software-defined data center

    Unlike traditional data centers, where physical components are predominantly fixed and visible, Software-Defined Data Centers (SDDCs) are characterized by dynamic, software-driven architectures that abstract and virtualize networking resources. This abstraction introduces new layers of complexity, making it challenging to manage the performance of the data center environment. Network professionals often lack a single monitoring solution for managing these multi-layered environments. This means teams have to delve into distinct silos of information, which is extremely time-consuming and diverts operators from more productive tasks.

    Comprehensive visibility into the SDDC and overall network infrastructure is now paramount for operations teams. It is only with this visibility that these teams can track resource deployments, detect abnormal performance, optimize workloads, and proactively address performance and capacity needs. Without advanced monitoring and issue detection, the agile and dynamic nature of the SDDC makes it virtually impossible for operations teams to maintain the service levels that modern applications and services require.

    2. Visibility into ISP and cloud networks

    The adoption of unpredictable transports, such as Internet broadband connections replacing Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), introduces a higher risk of latency and routing issues. Traditional network monitoring tools often lack insights into the underlay network, especially circuits operated by third-party providers. This limits the NOC's ability to pinpoint the root cause of performance degradation and makes it difficult to hold Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) accountable for the levels of service they provide. As a result, network teams can’t quickly identify and resolve issues, leading to a degraded end-user experience.

    Lengthy troubleshooting efforts, vendor blame-game scenarios, and blind spots across portions of the network make comprehensive visibility more important than ever. Network operations teams need to readily demonstrate their innocence when performance issues occur within environments owned by ISPs and other third-party providers. This results in faster Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR) as the evidence can be taken to the ISP or Software as a Service (SaaS) provider to escalate the issue for resolution, while the NOC can find a workaround to establish the required connectivity.

    3. Visibility into the digital experience

    Business-critical applications are not served or used in a single location anymore. This is compounded by the trend of enterprise decentralization. Now most enterprises have a global web of remote locations, including home offices, rather than a smaller network centered tightly around hardware at central headquarters. As a result, network teams need to zero in on the digital experience of any user, no matter which application they run, where they’re based, or what network they use.

    When organizations hand over their ownership of enterprise applications to cloud and SaaS solution providers, IT operations lose a lot of visibility—both on the network and the application side. This hinders their ability to quickly spot issues and find the root cause of problems. This is problematic as network operations are held fully responsible for supporting digital transformation and ensuring user satisfaction across the organization. As a result, those teams need solutions that deliver full visibility across all network environments. It is only with this visibility they can ensure users have the best possible experience with business-critical applications, wherever they’re hosted.

    Drawing it all together

    Network operations teams today are facing a technological inflection point. Networks everywhere are being re-architected to support cloud migrations, software-defined transitions, increasing business demands, and high user experience expectations. Traditional monitoring solutions, which have been in use for years, were not designed to handle the accelerated pace of change, the interdependent layering of Software Defined Networks (SDN), and the transient, dynamic nature of modern environments and services. These teams need to integrate network monitoring with user experience monitoring to align network strategies with key business outcomes and become better partners in enabling accelerated digital transformation.

    Every day, Broadcom helps IT organizations in navigating their journey through network transformation. To learn more, read our complimentary white paper on ways to improve monitoring practices for modern networks.

    Tag(s): NetOps , DX NetOps , AppNeta

    Yann Guernion

    Yann has several decades of experience in the software industry, from development to operations to marketing of enterprise solutions. He helps Broadcom deliver market-leading solutions with a focus on Network Management.

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