Over the past two weeks Andrew Lerner, Vice President in Gartner Research covering enterprise networking products, has put out two successive blogs that raise really interesting questions about the changing world of network management in an increasingly cloud-centric world.
In “What Keeps Network Folks Up at Night?”, Andrew writes about the worrisome challenges in the Banking/Financial industry related to frequent manual network configuration errors. He references upstream carrier network failures as being particularly painful to Information Systems Managers in the Retail Industry and he highlights the nightmare experienced by Network Managers in the Retail/Hospitality Industry who are beginning to realizing that “While you no longer ‘own’ your network infrastructure you’re still responsible for performance and availability of the applications that your users access”.
These anxiety-filled problems are all symptomatic of challenges the internet brings to companies that, in the past, could be entirely focused inward on network optimization. Once upon a time, if you knew how all your assets were operating, connecting, and functioning you were a hero. But, in today’s reality, enterprises have become more dependent on the public internet for overall performance, continuity, and security. New insight is needed in the performance of the internet itself and availability and reachability of cloud assets connecting to the internet.
When Banking/Financial Network Architects are affected by route hijacks caused by every-day BGP IP address configuration errors or Information Systems Managers in the Retail Industry have unseen upstream carrier network failures, real-time alerts, root cause analysis and rerouting action can resolve these problems quickly and effectively. And when Network Managers in the Retail/Hospitality Industry need to manage the internet like they own it, they need to be able to see availability, latencies, bit loss and market reachability for cloud service providers and CDNs.
In Andrew’s second blog, Network Management Tools in 2016, he works with his colleague Sanjit Ganguli where they define tool categories that IP Ops managers should be aware of. None of the tools mentioned, however, solve the problems referenced above. That is why another category of tools is vital to IT Ops managers.
Similarly to other network management tools, Internet Performance Management (IPM) provides the ability to monitor, troubleshoot, identify and isolate issues, test, and optimize internet network configurations. Uniquely, IPM is not only measuring what you own on the internet but also what you don’t own. This is critically important in today’s internet dependent services to deliver resiliency, continuity and predictability. If a currently chosen path between users or partners experiences an outage, degradation or is compromised, enterprises need to be able to redirect services to a healthy path to keep services up and revenue flowing.
In the new world of network management, the real change is knowing the art of possibility. Being able to see affecting problems, see the public internet plethora of better choices, and switch to the new optimal option. This is different than the current focus on point-to-point monitoring and analysis tools and should be a weapon in every IT Ops manager’s arsenal.