We all occasionally experience the phenomenon of a slow response from the business apps we use every day. But what most people don’t know is why it happens, and how enterprises and MSPs can gain better control over the situation.
Today’s transition to cloud applications, infrastructure and networks imposes new challenges to service delivery. Networks have become increasingly complex , spanning multiple domains from campus and branches through the public Internet and inside private and public clouds. And the equipment and software is provided by multiple vendors.
When there are more moving parts to the network, the risk increases that any one of them could fail or run slowly at any given moment, plus visibility across the ecosystem as a whole becomes more challenging. It’s harder to ensure that everything is in perfect working order all the time, yet that’s exactly what users expect. That’s why the minute an app slows down for a business user, they are typically on the phone/Slack/Whatsapp/etc. to the person responsible for the company’s IT.
IT directors and MSP teams need to keep on top of constantly-changing conditions within the network, but troubleshooting is tedious and time-consuming at best, and close to impossible at worst. At least, that’s the case without end to end intelligent networking.
Until recently, enterprises hosted data centers with all their business applications within the system itself, using on-prem servers that have their security baked in. But today, most enterprises are using hybrid or public clouds to host at least some of their assets and servers.
A number of business-critical applications like Google, Microsoft 365, Zoom, Salesforce, and SAP are now deployed within the cloud, with the result that secure connectivity to business applications occurs through the public Internet, rather than through private lines connecting the endpoints of the company. This gave rise to the need for a new domain: cloud-based security as a service, generally through either software defined wan (SD-WAN) routing, or security access service edge (SASE) routing, as a secure overlay for the internet.
This SD-WAN/SASE domain enables secure connectivity for all users to connect to cloud-based applications. SASE in particular is a new evolution of virtual protection, redirecting all outbound enterprise traffic through a proxy address in the cloud that belongs to the SASE vendor. With SASE, enterprises can apply filters to block websites that are inappropriate, irrelevant, or could represent a threat, as well as tracking user movements and ensuring that only approved users can access enterprise cloud applications.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed more enterprise workers than ever before to work from home, adding an extra endpoint (well, endpoints) that needs to be secured. Each employee working from home has their own connection to the security domain, or are still using private VPNs to connect to the main branch.
If a remote employee can’t complete a project because the crucial application is endlessly buffering, they are going to expect the IT support team to be able to identify where the problem is arising. They may not care whether the problem is in the VPN or SD-WAN/SASE connection; within the enterprise cloud; in their own WiFi router or home firewall; or even in the app itself; All that will concern them at that moment is that the IT support team FIXES IT.
While the new security as a service system added another domain to the network, it didn’t entirely replace the old architecture of private connections. When an enterprise adds a new location, they’ll use new technology and connection options, but private VPN lines are typically still in place connecting existing branches.
Many enterprises have a central IT hub in their main campus, with VPNs protecting secure connections that branch off towards separate endpoints in different spokes around the country or across the globe, guarding secure applications.
There are typically 3 or 4 domains involved in every enterprise network:
In addition, there are private connections through individual VPNs between various branch offices of the company, and each one needs to be monitored.
The problem is compounded because each vendor monitors only its own devices and software. Anyone — say an IT manager or MSP — trying to discover the location of a fault has to switch between the numerous different dashboards, interfaces, and views, which together make up the jigsaw puzzle of the network, trying to remember what they saw in the previous screen while moving on to the next one. It’s awkward, tedious, and inefficient.
There are typically multiple equipment types from multiple vendors in use in a single campus, so tracing the status and historical incidents for each one across numerous views is close to impossible. On top of that, many enterprises also house older connections using legacy software, and IT teams don’t have the right tools to use to monitor or view these connections at all.
As a result, when an end user experiences slow Internet or finds that one application is responding sluggishly, or if there’s a broader slowdown, it’s extremely difficult to diagnose. The fault could be anywhere in a complex, multi-branching network; how will the IT team identify it, much less repair it?
With so many vendors and domains involved in today’s enterprise networks, IT support teams need a new solution. NetOp’s network management platform enables intelligent, end to end monitoring which covers the entire network and encompasses almost every enterprise software or hardware vendor.
It covers connectivity between all the different domains and the different network elements that enable each end user to access the applications they need, wherever they are located. This creates a unified, end to end, constantly updated visualization of the architecture. The dashboard provides a single view and observability for every network element involved, allowing IT support to see the big picture across the entire sprawling network of vendors, domains, and devices, spot the source of the fault, and carry out troubleshooting.
Additionally, NetOp adds a layer of intelligence that helps users understand what they see in the monitored dashboards. It automatically correlates all the information, giving IT employees a better understanding of what happened within their services. Without end to end monitoring, each engineer and domain expert can point fingers at one another when a fault arises, and no one can be sure where the issue really lies. NetOp’s intelligent solution enables MSPs and in-house IT service teams to keep a closer eye on their networks, act quickly to resolve any incidents that cause a slowdown, and guarantee their SLA to assure secure connectivity.
Today’s complex networks are made up of multiple vendors and domains, making it extraordinarily challenging for IT support teams to diagnose and troubleshoot local or system-wide slowdowns, but end users expect constant, high-speed access to cloud business applications. NetOp’s advanced network management solution enables end to end, intelligent networking that presents a single unified view and automates data correlation, enabling IT employees and MSPs to deliver consistent, high speed cloud business access without frustration.