Considerations When Selecting a Network Performance Management Solution

NPMD solution capabilitiesOne of the most common realities in network management is that the network is always changing or rather evolving to meet the needs of the business. With the realities of the cloud, virtualization, and software-defined networking; network teams have too many tools to learn and manage; and never has the network been more critical and downtime more painful.

Network teams are able to meet the changing demands they face only if they are being supported by the right solutions. One of the biggest challenges network teams face is they are forced to use a myriad of tools and typically lack the benefit of a unified solution. With the right Network Performance Management Solution, teams spend less time on all the inevitable inefficiencies, and more time focusing on uptime, performance, and meeting the business needs.

Here are the 6 most important NPMD solution capabilities to look for

1. Situational awareness.

This term may have originated with improving cockpit effectiveness in an aircraft, but it certainly applies to networking.

Network teams need situational awareness in large part to know what NOT to pay attention to. Whatever is left must contain the problem. The driving technology behind situational awareness is advanced visualization. The best NPMD solutions go far beyond quickly generic data in basic charts and graphs, instead of presenting the deluge of comprehensive data from complex, hybrid networks in a format that maps to the mental model of today’s network engineer. This level of visualization allows teams to focus on what matters and resolve issues much faster than just digging through data.

2. Capacity planning.

It used to be adequate to do capacity planning on a per-WAN link basis, but that simply doesn’t cut it today. Teams need to assess available bandwidth, analyze bandwidth usage across applications, and prioritize bandwidth allocation, especially for a NetOps team responsible for dealing with high-priority application performance and QoS management across the entire organization.

3. Multiple data sources.

Device data – like NetFlow and SNMP – is critical for situational awareness and topology mapping, but what about the parts of the network where flow isn’t available? That’s where wire data – the ability to generate metadata directly from the traffic – comes in. But because wire data doesn’t require saving packets, a third data source, packet data, is needed if to get to the root cause of certain problems.

This is where most teams utilize yet another tool to view packet data. A single unified solution across all the data sources will smooth out the workflow and let you quickly analyze issues using all data sources.

4. Software-Defined Networks.

The expanded adoption of software-defined networks has really had a significant impact on network teams. “Physical plumbing” matters, but virtual plumbing matters more. Without a clean, multi-vendor overlay/underlay view, it is possible to see a problem without understanding which of many physical explanations is the right one. Robust support for SD-WAN is key for network teams.

5. Interoperability.

Clearly, it is a good thing to have an integrated solution for network performance monitoring and diagnostics, but even a unified NPMD solution cannot simply exist on its own. Whether it be SD-WAN controllers, network ticketing solutions, or Cisco’s SD-Access, you need a high level of interoperability.

6. Cloud.

The movement of workloads to AWS and Azure continues to accelerate. Sure, NetOps teams don’t own cloud computing infrastructure directly, but since when did that stop someone with slow application performance from blaming the network? There is a need to plan for those migrations and network traffic is also a key cost driver. Once in the cloud teams need to be able to manage, troubleshoot, and optimize the cloud seamlessly along with traditional, owned network resources. The visibility of traffic inside of the public cloud is a key requirement for network teams to do their jobs effectively in today’s world.

These six capabilities are foundational for any company evaluating an NPMD solution. At LiveAction, we’ve certainly kept them in mind as we built the best visualization solution in networking. Network teams need a single pane of glass that brings together different data sources across various domains to provide them true network visibility. That’s the only way to resolve issues faster and reduce the costs to manage the network.

Want to learn more about how LiveAction can help your organization, sign up for a demo of LiveNX.