Top 3 Challenges for Today’s Network Engineer? Performance, Performance, Performance by Team AppNeta September 12, 2016
The job of a network engineer or network administrator is to solve problems; everything from backups to cables to firewalls to viruses. All of these tasks are related to moving data moving 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 from VoIP to cloud services, coupled with the corresponding growth in network size and complexity, it isn’t getting any easier.
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:
- Maintenance and monitoring of network traffic
- Network performance management
Practically everyone who uses information technology, let alone IT professionals, is aware that information security is a battle without end. Some specific security threats that are on the rise include 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.
According to Bradford Networks, Business Computing World and other sources, the top network concerns revolve around trends towards “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 from VoIP to virtual desktop infrastructure to IP storage.
More systems, more endpoints and more access over the network means not only more security challenges, but also an intensifying need to monitor the increased traffic and ensure acceptable performance.
Maintenance and Monitoring of Network Traffic
Monitoring and managing network traffic is a top concern in any IT department. 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.
In short, as more and more organizations leverage various monitoring options to support more users and more services more efficiently, many of the challenges that arise result from a need to cope with increasing—and increasingly diverse—network traffic.
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 failure.
To ensure that users can do their jobs, network engineers must be able to:
- Continuously monitor network performance metrics (jitter, packet loss, bandwidth, latency) in real-time across multiple, distributed sites
- Troubleshoot VoIP, IP storage, virtual desktops and other IP-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.