The Importance of Easily Deployable Network Performance Management Solutions
by March 15, 2012

Filed under: Network Performance Management, Performance Management Tech

Network performance management solutions are supposed to make IT’s job easier, but implementing the solution can be a nightmare. IT departments just don’t have the budget or the staff to deal with traditional network performance management solutions that require software to be purchased and installed, or that demand manual software installation, configuration and upgrades.

Network DeploymentDeployment also encompasses not just what it takes to roll out the tool and begin using it, but also its impact on the network. With more and more performance-sensitive, IP-based applications throwing traffic onto the network every day, plus more remote users and more mobile devices, it’s not acceptable for a network performance management tool to bog down the network with packets of its own.

Next, is it possible to deploy the solution end-to-end so you have visibility and insight along the entire network path from cloud/SaaS providers or remote data centers to your widely distributed users, even over networks you don’t own? Many solutions that claim to offer network performance management will stop short, leaving you groping in the dark over a wide range of commonplace problems that happen beyond your firewall. Many network engineers lack visibility and control over solutions implemented at remote offices which results in on-site visits.

Finally, deployment is also about usability. How much work does it take to actually troubleshoot, pinpoint solve network issues with solution? For example, there are lots of “free” tools out there these days that can “monitor” various aspects of network performance. Often there is considerable effort involved in sifting through multiple raw data feeds from freeware tools, versus a well-designed, configurable and vendor supported dashboard that gives network engineers exactly what they’re looking for at a glance.

SNMP-based solutions are a good example of a traditional technology that does a great job in some respects but doesn’t fit how companies work today. SNMP requires you to collect and analyze data from all devices to find a problem and, if the problem is outside of your infrastructure, you’re blind. There are many excellent dashboards for viewing SNMP data, but the SNMP protocol itself is designed to measure device health, not key performance indicators for an IP-based network, like bandwidth, jitter, packet loss, latency and retransmissions.

Similarly, netflow analysis tools have been available for many years now. These tools work well, but require the correct expensive hardware to generate the netflow data and then a separate server to collect and analyze it. These days few companies can afford to over-provision their network infrastructure to accommodate netflow traffic, especially at the remote sites where an ever-greater percentage of users work. And once you have the hardware in place to handle netflow analysis, you still need to purchase, install and configure a complex software solution to collect, analyze and display the data. Even then, you know who is doing what on the network, but you don’t know the impact on critical business services.

Even some network performance management solutions that tout “ease of deployment” in their marketing copy are only easy-to-deploy compared to traditional scenarios. Do you need to download, distribute, install and configure devices or physical/virtual servers? And then manage all that as your network changes? Do you need to worry about the topology of your network performance management solution and how different components of it communicate? That’s not “ease of deployment”… that’s a royal pain.

In contrast to the above, the cloud-based PathView Cloud service from AppNeta has the simplest deployment scenario imaginable: plug PathView microAppliances into your network, and you’re done. Any site anywhere can be up-and-running within minutes – with no configuration hassles, no hardware requirements and no software installation.

Zero administration, zero upgrades, a rich interface accessible from anywhere, end-to-end visibility, on-demand scalability… That’s what “ease of deployment” is really all about.