Total Eclipse of Network Performance
by August 25, 2017

Filed under: Networking Technology, Performance Monitoring

It’s always fun to stop and take a look at network traffic during specific events when the web is especially in demand—during the Olympics, World Cup, March Madness or whatever your office’s preference is. Here’s a look at how this week’s solar eclipse affected the internet—specifically carrier networks. Lots of good eclipse viewing areas were in rural areas, so the big carriers like Verizon and Sprint added field equipment to boost coverage. The real challenge for the providers wasn’t just the traffic spike, but integration with the rural legacy networks and the short timeframe of the eclipse. There was just a short window when eclipse viewers were taking and sharing photos. For the next U.S. eclipse, in 2024, experts say advanced signal processing and software-defined radio, among other technologies, will make carrier networks better prepared.

In other network news, Google Cloud Platform this week announced a new networking tier to give its users a choice between a higher-priced network path that uses Google’s high-speed private network or a lower-priced path over the public internet. The lower-priced choice is the new one—Google Cloud users have been on the higher-priced, mainly fiber-based, one all along. It’s an interesting mirror of what SD-WAN does, or what QoS enforcement is all about—matching the right workload with the right network. Critical applications, like VoIP or video streaming at a remote call center, need the bandwidth and capacity that a recreational app doesn’t. That’s something we’ve long preached to our users who are monitoring and managing app and network performance.

For more on evaluating networks and related technology, this story focuses on the questions to ask SD-WAN solution providers. Many SD-WAN vendors have been in the market as network providers, and there are others new to the market. Either way, SD-WAN products, and the overall market, are still very new. That means you need to ask providers about carrier network and SD-WAN relationships, what kind of data you’ll get and from which device, how the SD-WAN product detects and mitigates failures, and what features the product offers beyond simple connectivity. There’s a lot to consider in here for those of you on the SD-WAN adoption path.

And finally, here’s a look at all the data that organizations are collecting today, and what they should do with it. We know our customers use our data for alerting, and for reporting and embedding in other apps and reports. Those are a few steps along the “data maturity” journey described here, along with consolidating data sets and ultimately incorporating data so the business can continually respond and improve to what the data measures. Being data-driven is a culture shift that involves people, processes and technology. It’s a good goal for any business, even if getting insights out of all your collected data may seem overwhelming now.