2011 could be considered the year that network performance management “came of age.” In this past year, IT and network managers in organizations of all sizes and industry segments have become aware — if they weren’t already — that the performance of the network is the foundation of user experience and business success.
Why was 2011 such a pivotal year in this space? Suddenly so much data, from so many more applications and devices, is now transmitted across IP-based networks. From VoIP to cloud-based services, to virtual desktops, to video conferencing to personal mobile devices, IP-based networks are rapidly becoming bigger, more complex and more important than ever.
With traffic levels skyrocketing and no end in sight, we’ve put together four “can’t miss” trends that folks tasked with managing network performance should keep on the backs of their hands in the New Year.
1) Cloud Application Performance = Network Performance.
The growth of cloud-based services like hosted e-mail, online backup/recovery and SaaS applications from Salesforce.com to SAP ERP bring new network performance challenges. Jumping into cloud deployments can be painful if your network isn’t ready, or if you’re not ready to manage it.
Any business service accessed over cloud infrastructure becomes a remote service and is network-dependent. Every user of cloud services is a remote user, wholly reliant on the network for his or her experience of cloud services. Cloud-based apps will falter, freeze and disconnect users when network performance sinks below tolerable thresholds.
In 2012, network professionals and IT/application service providers will increasingly leverage network performance management tools and services to support successful cloud services deployments and to guarantee application service levels for users.
2) It’s not just about bandwidth.
It used to be that managing network performance just meant adding bandwidth when response times started getting slow. But there are other vital factors – especially when it comes to ensuring or improving application SLAs. These include:
- Packet loss
- Latency or delay
- Packet loss and retransmissions
- Bandwidth in relation to network traffic
- Network configuration and changes thereto
In 2012, network professionals will increasingly turn to network performance management tools and services to enable them to measure these KPIs as a means of monitoring network health over time, pinpointing problems, assessing readiness for the deployment of new services, and other critical concerns.
2) It’s what you know, not how much.
Network professionals are recognizing that network management takes more than just data – the data needs to be actionable! Your network performance management solution – not your IT staff – should be charged with collating thousands of data elements into clear results you can use to understand user experience, quickly address problems, and proactively manage the network.
3) Don’t let your users be the first to spot a problem.
Because of their growing reliance on IP-based applications to do their jobs, users — and senior management — have higher expectations than ever before for network performance. Thus it’s more important than ever to be able to identify network problems before they impact users. By the time users start calling the Help Desk, in many respects IT has already failed.
Being proactive takes real-time data on a wide range of network KPIs. In 2012, a growing number of IT departments will implement proactive approaches to network monitoring and management.
4) Streaming media is a monster that must be tamed.
The mobile and streaming media explosions are having a major impact on network performance in nearly every organization. There’s a lot of corporate bandwidth being sucked up by video and music downloads these days! Add a few YouTube viewings, throw in some CNN video content, plus a couple of Skype online video conference calls, and even a robust network can feel the pain.
Knowing who is using what bandwidth on your network is helpful for troubleshooting performance issues like sluggish application performance. If your business is maxing out its available Internet bandwidth, especially at peak times, the result can be crashing cloud applications, dropped VoIP calls and lost business productivity.