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Validating ISP SLAs requires comprehensive network monitoring
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

With internet connectivity playing such a pivotal role in business, enterprises can’t afford to accept less-than-stellar performance from the ISPs they partner with. Doing so would set the whole business up for failure – and could paint enterprise IT in a bad light when they might not be at fault for poor performance, despite what the users they support might perceive.

With the rapid growth of cloud computing, SaaS and IaaS, along with the centralization of IT resources and the rise of the remote office, all businesses and employees need uninterrupted access to these IP-based applications. But when network performance degrades, the performance of today’s network-dependent applications – including VoIP, video conferencing, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and IP storage – quickly degrades along with it.

How do you know your carrier is meeting the requirements you are paying for? And if you are a carrier, how can you prove to your clients that you are delivering the service as agreed?

The answer lies in validating service-level agreements (SLAs).

SLAs specify the Quality of Service (QoS) that IT departments and other service providers are mandated to deliver. Business stakeholders point to SLAs as a way to quantify network performance and reliability in business terms, and IT departments can benefit from SLAs as a way to illustrate service value, justify funding and compare price/performance against outsourced providers.

But monitoring QoS and isolating SLA violations and other problems over today’s complex, distributed networks can be extremely difficult. How do you verify QoS from the perspective of remote users accessing remote resources over networks you don’t own?

How do you deploy and manage the tools required to verify SLAs without introducing yet more network traffic and adding burdensome operational costs?

Network and application performance issues can turn into a finger-pointing war between a carrier and a customer. For a resolution to the endless argument, both sides need to be proactively monitor their networks to meet SLAs 24/7 and report accurately and consistently on service delivery.

Many organizations still have no end-to-end visibility into the performance of public networks or those managed by ISPs. Common technologies like Cisco IP SLA and SNMP, for instance, simply can’t reach beyond a company’s own routers and switches.

To verify SLAs and efficiently rectify violations and other network performance issues, network managers need four fundamental capabilities:

  • End-to-end visibility into key metrics like bandwidth, latency, packet loss and jitter across the network path between services and remote users

  • Hop-to-hop diagnostics that clearly pinpoint where problems are occurring, even over third-party or public networks

  • Remote performance monitoring tools that automatically send alerts when performance drops below SLA thresholds
  • An understanding of the ongoing operating costs of their network connections across remote locations

These insights let network managers “see beyond their own routers” to ensure an agreed level of QoS to their users, monitor third-party compliance with SLAs, and minimize – or even proactively eliminate — the impact of problems on business activities.

AppNeta Performance Manager is the only monitoring solution that looks at the network through four dimensions, collecting network path, packet, web synthetics and flow data that, combined,

enables teams to take an active approach to measuring the health and availability of the network end-to-end. And because AppNeta leverages unique packet-train technology via it’s SaaS-delivered platform, all of this monitoring can be conducted with minimal impact to total network capacity. When teams are exploring wide-scale direct-to-internet access as part of their network transformation, these characteristics are critical to ensuring end-user experience is minimally impacted throughout.

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Filed Under: performance monitoring

Tags: SLA, service level agreement, performance monitoring, network monitoring, network performance monitoring, cloud computing, cloud provider, internet service provider, ISP

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