Top 3 Challenges for Today’s Network Engineer? Performance, Performance, Performance
by September 12, 2016

Filed under: Networking Technology, Performance Monitoring

The job of a network engineer or network administrator is to solve problems, everything from backups and cables to firewalls and viruses. All of these tasks are related to moving data across the network in an optimal and efficient manner so that users can do the work that drives the business.

Every network engineer’s job is different, but one thing is for sure: With the exploding use of IP-based technologies, including VoIP and cloud services, coupled with the corresponding growth in network size and complexity, it isn’t getting any easier to be a network engineer.

The challenges associated with keeping today’s overburdened networks secure, predictable and healthy are numerous, but these three related concerns would top most network engineers’ lists:

  1. Security
  2. Maintenance and monitoring of network traffic
  3. Network performance management

1. Information Security

Practically everyone who uses information technology, not just IT professionals, is aware that information security is a battle without end. Some specific security threats that are on the rise include widespread DNS attacks, route hijacking, malware targeting smartphones and tablets, the consumerization of enterprise applications on personal devices, and the need for security to evolve in line with private cloud and virtual desktop infrastructure.

Top network concerns today revolve around trends toward more users (employees and unmanaged users like business partners); more mobile devices (managed and unmanaged), and IP everything—the exponential growth of IP-based, networked applications and devices like VoIP, virtual desktop infrastructure and IP storage.

More systems, more endpoints and more access over the network mean not only more security challenges, but also an intensifying need to monitor the increased traffic and ensure acceptable performance over a more complex delivery path.

2. Maintenance and Monitoring of Network Traffic

Monitoring and managing network traffic is a top concern in any IT department. Having a clear view of the network over time is crucial to limiting ticket volume and increasing MTTR. This is especially the case as monitoring efforts are ubiquitously leveraged as a way to help meet network security and performance goals. However, monitoring and troubleshooting efforts are often hampered by a lack of effective tools and integrated reporting and alerting capabilities. Many network practitioners are likewise challenged by the need to capture, store and analyze vast amounts of monitoring data involving increasingly diverse types of IP-based traffic, from video streaming to SaaS applications. Additionally, with better network connections globally, employees are able to work from more disparate locations. That makes identifying end-user issues even harder.

In short, as more and more organizations leverage various monitoring options to support more users, more locations and more web-based services more efficiently, many of the challenges that arise result from a need to cope with this increasing—and varied—network traffic.

3. Network Performance Management

Managing network performance may be the network engineer’s ultimate challenge. The ever-growing diversity and volume of IP-based services that today’s organizations increasingly rely on all in turn depend on adequate network performance. When bandwidth, jitter, packet loss or latency drops even slightly below tolerance thresholds, services quickly collapse. The more traffic the network carries—and the greater the number of hops between users and services—the higher the risk of poor network performance leading to application slowdowns that reduce productivity.

To ensure that users can do their jobs, network engineers must be able to:

  • Continuously monitor network performance metrics (jitter, packet loss, bandwidth, latency and link capacity) in real-time across multiple, distributed sites
  • Troubleshoot VoIP, IP storage, virtual desktops and other SaaS-based applications
  • Understand what application instances are using what percentage of available bandwidth, and what IP addresses are associated with them
  • Assess the network’s readiness for new services before deploying them

AppNeta’s Performance Manager provides these capabilities by delivering insight in both directions between your data center and your remote sites—through third-party and public networks as well as your own. It’s both cost-effective and simple to deploy and manage.