1. Look Beyond the Network
When things slow down on the network, the complaints often come to the network manager. The call is usually for more bandwidth, more links, faster routers. However, even though most complaints blame the network, the real culprit might be lying somewhere else.
We are living in an application oriented world. Business operations, marketing, selling, HR, payroll, benefits all are often being sourced to specialized third party applications. The network manager has no control over the operation of these applications but they can effect the operation of the network and the overall client experience. The network can be lightening fast with ample available bandwidth, but if the application is slow responding to a request, the user often blames the network.
The solution to this issue is permanent monitoring of network traffic. If the network manager is aware of the applications in use and receives reports on application response times, the real response time culprit can be easily revealed. Organizations may not be able to directly control application quality but, with proper monitoring and analysis, they can trace response issues to the source. Proper monitoring can save expenses spent on problems that do not exist and provide the necessary information to work with third party application providers to resolve issues and improve service.
2. Future Planning
Growth happens. Last year’s network upgrade is already in need of a refresh. BYOD has employees working from laptops and smartphones from remote locations. Digital transformation has increased network demand. IoT and 5G growth will have even more devices connected to the network. “Busy hour” engineering has been replaced by a global business model that requires 7/24/365 access. Continuing growth in compute speeds, bandwidth and a myriad of other factors requires thoughtful planning.
In order to plan for the future, one must understand the past and the present. Understanding historic and current traffic patterns can help develop a thoughtful analysis of what might be expected in the future. Simply reacting to outages and complaints is not a future growth plan. In fact, it is expensive and wasteful. The urgent nature of growth by complaint mitigation often leads to special rush charges and a lack of ability to research cost effective equipment options. The objective is simply to relieve current pressure with no pre-planned path for future expansion, thus creating a cycle of crisis management.
On the other hand, permanent monitoring of traffic patterns, application usage and device growth can lead to an insightful analysis helping to create a long term plan for future growth. This type of intelligent growth planning can eliminate rush charges, reduce network bottlenecks and outages while creating a clear path forward within preordained metrics for budget and performance.
3. Know Your Normal
This tip is critical. If you do not have visibility to your traffic and understand what is normal, you will not be aware of potentially catastrophic anomalies. According to a 2019 study in IT Governance, United States companies take an average of 206 days to detect a breach. The average cost of a breach that is identified in less than 100 days is $5.99 million. When breach discovery is over 100 days, the cost balloons to $8.7 million. Another interesting point made in the article is that 53% of breaches are discovered by an external source. All this points to the fact that organizations do not know the difference between normal traffic and malicious traffic.
Permanent monitoring and tracking of all network traffic allows organizations to create trends and establish metrics to understand what traffic should be on the network and what traffic has potential to cause harm. There are AI tools available today that can even predict potential problems prior to them actually doing harm.
4. Beware GIGO
An old computer term, Garbage In Garbage Out applies here. The three tips above are critical to the health and future of your network. Permanent monitoring and analysis of traffic can help understand problem areas, plan for future growth and more quickly spot potential malicious traffic that can cost the company millions. However, traffic analysis is only as good as the information provided to the tools.
Independent TAPs provide fail safe connection of monitoring links to tools that provide visibility and analysis of traffic. TAPs provide 100% complete and accurate mirror copies of traffic to these tools. Unlike SPAN or mirror ports that can randomly drop packet during busy periods or not pass all the packets, TAPs pass everything. Further, TAPs are independent of the network and do not add delay or increase internal switch traffic.
In order for tools to accurately analyze traffic, they need to receive accurate data. If you do not have full visibility of all traffic, you can not be sure you have accurate analysis of actual traffic patterns. For more information on #networkvisibility,