Scaling Network Monitoring: How to Future-Proof Your Solution
Cisco Network Monitoring
Today’s Network Is Larger, More Widespread, and More Complex
The network is getting larger, more widespread, and more complex. Businesses continue to adopt new IT models to keep pace with changing customer needs, complicating the typical network environment and sometimes resulting in an infrastructure beyond what most IT teams can support.
By 2023, there will be…
- 5.3 billion total Internet users (66% of global population)
- 1.6 networked mobile devices and connections per person, up from 1.2 in 2018.
- 3.6 networked devices and connections per person, up from 1.2 in 2018.
- An average WiFi speed of 92 Mbps.
Despite the exponentially increasing complexity, admins and analysts still have to support and deliver modern enterprise networks. With networks commonly spanning thousands of devices, varying geographies, different configuration rules, and sometimes even proprietary operating systems, it’s not an easy task.
Looking back a few years, organizations like banks or healthcare facilities operating multiple sites typically relied on MPLS with circuits architected by the service provider. Today, bandwidth has become significantly cheaper, bringing many businesses to migrate away from MPLS in favor of simply selecting an ISP to provide the connection, often opting for SD-WAN. SD-WAN does offer cost savings benefits, but it also adds complications into the network because most vendors in this space have proprietary monitoring solutions. Furthermore, many businesses are migrating from dedicated data centers to cloud-based solutions, often maintaining computing resources in a traditional data center, but also in the cloud.
Although most businesses juggle a combination of IT and network technologies, vendors tend to promote their own management platforms. The more businesses evolve and grow, the more technologies they operate, and as a result, the more tools. This doesn’t include the myriad of SaaS applications hosted in the cloud as well, making scalability a difficult feat, especially when it comes to network monitoring.
Scaling Requirements Impact the Efficacy of Network Monitoring Solutions
In the past, when a new technology was adopted, IT typically identified a tool to monitor that particular technology. It was very common for an organization to use one tool to monitor one area of the network and another for something more specific. For example, one tool for network fault management, another for reporting and yet another for NetFlow monitoring. This resulted in continuously multiplying toolsets and expenses which introduces distractions and general inefficiency into the network team. The network team ends up spending hours bouncing back and forth between different consoles to monitor various network elements.
Achieving the ubiquity and scale growing businesses are seeking when it comes to network monitoring solutions can be a major challenge given the rate at which devices continue to grow, as well as the complexity of connectivity and traffic access requirements. It’s important to seek network monitoring solutions built to overcome the limitations of traditional approaches and address any potential scalability challenges you may face with current devices.
How to Plan for Scale Successfully
Scalability is something that every vendor does differently, and how easy it is to scale is highly dependent on vendor selection. First, be certain you are surveying the networking landscape to see what emerging technologies are being widely adopted. If your business is outgrowing your network monitoring solution, you’ll want to look for a new tool that’s designed to meet company needs as the networking landscape changes. It’s also recommended that you select a network monitoring solution which provides a single software image to maintain from a patching and features perspective.
In addition, when scaling from a single server to a multi-server solution, be wary of vendors who utilize a centralized database. This is an additional expense, requires maintenance, and can be a choke point for scalability. Rather, look for solutions that employ servers as independent collection points, consolidated into an easily digestible view, and delegated through roles via the user interface. This will allow your network management solution to scale very easily with minimal effort.
Also make sure that your vendor puts the effort into adding functionality beyond network performance management into the product for additional value, such as the ability to monitor servers, storage arrays, and hardware monitoring. If you’re using different networking equipment that comes with its own management tools, make certain that your network monitoring solution offers APIs along with traditional monitoring protocols for a complete view of the infrastructure.