Network Operations (NetOps) teams today are operating in one of the most exciting and challenging times in IT history. As many organizations set their sights on adopting major technologies like SD-WAN, edge computing, and virtualization to tap into the tremendous business benefits they can bring to bear, most IT teams are dealing with countless other priorities and obstacles, while battling limited resources.
This begs the question, what are NetOps teams’ top priorities today and what challenges do they need to overcome?
A new survey of network and IT professionals sheds light on these issues, addressing the top business objectives that are driving network transformations today. The findings showed that overall, organizations are driving their IT teams to focus on network transformation projects as a way to achieve key business goals.
Here are some of the top results from the survey:
- The top three network transformation projects for enterprise IT in 2019 are deploying switch infrastructure, expanding cloud infrastructure and expanding Wi-Fi systems.
- When it comes to troubleshooting, 45% of enterprise IT professionals consider improving application performance across the entire network to be their largest focus.
- Perhaps the most fascinating finding was that one third of networking professionals cited improved network agility as their highest priority in 2019, reinforcing it as one of the most important business goals in the industry.
Understanding and Achieving Network Agility
Let’s take a deeper look at the concept of network agility and why it’s so critical for NetOps.
From a technical perspective, network agility is when network infrastructure has the ability to effectively self-manage itself through the automation of configurations and policies.
More broadly, the term is being used to describe when NetOps teams are equipped with the scale and flexibility to move at the speed of their connected businesses. As we know, key business goals are driving IT to pursue major network transformation projects, which add a tremendous amount of complexity, and require highly effective optimization and troubleshooting across all network domains.
By improving network agility, NetOps teams are able to keep up with constant network changes and allow their organization to capitalize on the tangible business benefits these technologies can offer.
This is an easy idea to understand, but many find it difficult to achieve in practice.
NetOps teams carry the heavy burden of having to manage and monitor today’s complex networks, but the numerous legacy tools they use don’t provide them with the proper visibility to do so.
Unfortunately, many teams are using up to 10 network monitoring tools just to keep up with the challenges these network transformation initiatives present. So, we weren’t surprised that survey respondents reported consolidating network monitoring tools as their highest network improvement initiative for 2019.
The survey found that 35% of networking pros have poor visibility into performance levels across all fabrics of their network.
Poor visibility leads to time-consuming troubleshooting, which can have negative outcomes for the business with network downtime, decreased productivity and frustrated users.
Not to mention, it distracts from their highest priorities! In fact, a whopping 43% of network professionals are challenged to find time to focus on strategic business initiatives because they spend too much time troubleshooting the network!
Additionally, without proper visibility, NetOps cannot monitor the network proactively. And, 38% of NetOps professionals cited that they are unable to proactively identify network performance issues, which forces them into a reactive position, scrambling to troubleshoot problems after they’ve already begun to impact the business.
So with all of the network optimization and troubleshooting issues associated with network transformation initiatives, how can IT teams achieve network agility and support broader business objectives?
Many are finding that unified network performance monitoring and diagnostic (NPMD) platforms can help with these issues.
These platforms provide NetOps teams the end-to-end network visibility they need to monitor and manage the entire network, even at endpoints or in hybrid environments.
As a result, administrators can proactively monitor and identify network issues, which leads to faster and easier troubleshooting.
Beyond that, they can actually focus their time and energy on the key business objectives listed above, which support enhanced network agility, which in turn supports strategic business initiatives.
These Unified NPMD platforms help eliminate the issue of tool sprawl as well. Having one central platform can eliminate the numerous legacy tools that most IT teams are burdened with today.
Legacy network performance management solutions were designed to solve specific network domain issues, such as VoIP performance degradation, etc.
But these legacy tools create performance blind spots since they can only see part of the network.
To make the network more responsive and flexible, today’s NetOps teams need network performance management tools that provide visibility across the entire enterprise, from SD-WAN to endpoints and even the cloud. This allows them to not only manage change, but to optimize network performance over time.
In order to overarching business goals and objectives, NetOps teams need to achieve end-to-end visibility that can establish and accelerate true network agility.
Unified NPMD platforms can allow IT to gain this level of visibility across all network domains, which will help NetOps teams focus on planning, deploying and optimizing strategic network transformation projects, instead of endless troubleshooting requirements.
Chances are, your priorities are similar to those listed above. The question is, are you armed with the network visibility you need to succeed?