This week’s five is a weekly column on five recent reads from all over the web. This week, we’ll talk about network performance management.TWF #03

What’s the next big thing going on in the world of IT? Most would say the cloud. But the cloud doesn’t run on it’s own. And neither do any of the on-premises components of IT. They all run on an unpredictable and complex operational system of data flows called the network.

Now, the network can be really tricky. That is why we have network performance management (NPM) tools in the first place, to monitor activities all across the network. While enterprises already know the value of these tools, startups might think they’re not that important. But they are. NPM tools not only prevent data loss and downtime, they also help with machine maintenance and project management.

[To learn why startups can’t afford to pass on NPM, click here.]

But look at the keywords above: “unpredictable” and “complex.” So what makes networks complex and unpredictable? And how can NPM tools tackle these issues? Let’s find out.

With the continuous evolution of the network, many new technologies have come into the picture. One of those is virtualization. Virtualization not only optimizes resource utilization, it consolidates physical servers, facilitates on-demand services, and enhances visibility. All of that makes it easy for enterprises to switch to the cloud, which is a type of virtualization.

[To learn how virtualization works with the network, click here.]

[To learn how virtualization increases the business value of the cloud, click here.]

Another technology that brings the network to the same level of agility as storage and virtual servers is software defined networking (SDN). It patches an extra layer of software on the network components and enables admins to define compliance rules for them. Basically, it makes networks more flexible.

[To find out everything you need to know before deploying software defined networks, click here.]

But with the good comes the bad. Virtualization adds innumerous virtual machines to the network.The cloud is often handled by third-party vendors, which reduces your visibility of network traffic. SDN is also a virtual construct, and therefore makes monitoring more difficult. In a nutshell, these technologies are what make the network complex and unpredictable.    

And let’s not forget that software patches and applications can also impact servers. Plus, they create a responsibility issue between application performance management (APM) and NPM admins. This takes the complexity to an organizational level and generates the need for a whole new specialized type of NPM called application-aware network performance management (AANPM).

[To learn more about AANPM, click here.]

Now that we’ve discussed complexity and unpredictability of the network, let’s go over the NPM tools that can tackle those issues. What we need here is an intelligent consolea single point of control that can automate workflows, monitor application performance, offer open APIs that SDN can plug in to, and provide better root cause analysis and cross platform visibility. A bit too much to ask, right?

But hey! It already exists. Here is a unified solution for performance management that has it all and can even generate tickets with an IT help desk integration. And with more plug-ins for NCCM (network change and configuration management), IPAM (IP address management), and NetFlow-based bandwidth monitoring, it’s a tool that can simplify your entire network. 

[P.S.: To boost your network performance, click here.]

Check out the last week’s five, here.