The Untapped Value of Increasing Your Network Visibility

Richard Pain | Nov. 6, 2017
By analysing network traffic patterns and volume, enterprises can engage customers better, from improving application to adjusting bandwidth availability during peak engagement periods.

NTT Communications LogoThis article is sponsored by NTT Communications

Networking Visibility

As modern enterprises seek to transform their digital platforms, many face the dilemma of grappling with the different technology systems within their company. Individually, these systems may have met a specific business need at one time, but collectively, systems which do not work together cohesively ultimately complicate network visibility.

Having a clear, comprehensive picture of the entire network is a crucial element in extracting all the data within it, and if you are not getting full access to the wealth of information contained in such data, you are wasting a valuable resource.

By analysing network traffic patterns and volume, enterprises can engage customers better, from improving application to adjusting bandwidth availability during peak engagement periods.

When it comes to system management, network data analysis helps enterprises ensure high quality application execution by analysing and correlating data from routers, switches and other devices in the network. This can not only help to resolve current issues quickly and can also anticipate future problem areas before they impact network performance. Network visibility is also the cornerstone of your security infrastructure, after all, you cannot secure what you can't see.

 

Increasing Your Network Visibility becomes paramount

 

As applications move to the cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) becomes more prevalent, the new challenges faced by CIOs include:

 

 

In order to ensure a high end-user experience, CIOs will have to deploy a network capable to quickly adjust to constantly changing requirement. But without the ability to visualize what is actually and in real-time happening on the network, such capabilities lose most of their potential and values.

In this environment, CIOs are increasingly turning to software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) architecture. As a result of this trend, the research company International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that the SD-WAN industry, worth USD 225 million in 2015, is expected to grow to become a USD 6 billion industry by 2020.

A SD-WAN platform supports multiple connection types, including broadband and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), and provides a simple interface for managing networks. Instead of replacing traditional WAN technologies, SD-WAN builds a centrally-managed software layer over the network. This gives enterprises better visibility and control while optimising the use of their existing network infrastructure, thus improving cost-effectiveness.

 

Leveraging Real-time Network Analytics

 

Recognising the disruptive quality of the SD-WAN overlay technology, NTT Communications (NTT Com) has worked to improve its benefits by adding a real-time streaming network analytics feature to its SD-WAN platform. Based on NTT Com's developed application visibility reporting and analytics tool, this pioneering feature transforms enterprise networks by enabling real-time applications utilization and performance reporting, leading to faster problems resolution.

Multi-dimensional visuals provide greater visibility as it analyses issues along the network at multiple levels: at site level, the application dimension and at the individual (internet protocol IP) address. Such agility allows for potential issues to be determined, monitored and solved in real-time.

Furthermore, the innovative streaming analytical feature adds a new layer of visibility by letting enterprises replay what goes on inside its network. For example, if a company wants to find out the reason for high traffic volume at its Shanghai branch 24 hours ago, it can replay the data from that branch to identify the type of applications which were in heavy use at the time. This can include establishing the number of employees using streaming media, the amount of bandwidth consumed by email use, and pinpointing the applications used by individual end-user devices.

Such visibility, combined with advanced malware detection and reporting analytics, also helps identify whether the high traffic volume was caused by the infection of end-points by spyware or botnets.

By evaluating the reasons for the congestion and its impact on end-users, the enterprise can then make the necessary adjustments in managing workload and performance to ensure the network is running efficiently.

 

An Example SD-WAN Implementation Use Case

 

To better explain how SD-WAN benefits an organisation's existing network, let's examine a use case and several common pain points you, the reader, might be experiencing yourself.

Imagine an organisation that has been growing consistently for the past decade, but its traditional MPLS WAN is becoming a bottleneck for its expansion. As a result, application performance is deteriorating and user experience is being negatively impacted, but it isn't clear how to improve the network whilst containing overall costs.

One unwanted side effect of this set-up is what's known as 'hairpin routing' via the regional data centre for internet, public cloud, remote workers and extranet. Often this is the main reason for the degraded user-experience and a lot of unutilized backup capacity.

Other pain-points that are commonly experienced by organisations in this situation include a general lack of visibility of applications on the network. This is linked to the potential for shadow applications to be running in the background.

As a solution, the advantages of implementing a managed hybrid-WAN network infrastructure with an SD-WAN overlay network are: improved user-experience with visibility of the application performance, not just of the network utilization by application, simplified change management and substantially lower operational costs.

Intelligent routing is one of the key features of this solution, which enables the highest level of network performance for enterprise applications, bypassing Internet peering and congestion points. In particular, this allows for active-active routing traffic across all available network connections to customer sites

Other benefits include the ability to track the performance of applications both internal and external to your network, you can identify which applications are consuming the most network resources, as well as identifying the top talker sites and IP/users.

SD-WAN allows all this by adding an overlay network to the hybrid-WAN, with the objective being to optimise the performance of the applications transported over the WAN by dynamically selecting the best available path to reach the destination (so, differently from a hybrid WAN where the path is not predefined). This optimisation feature is provided by a central controller that monitors the health of the end-to-end connectivity in real time. But crucially what makes this all possible, is the increased network visibility, a critical feature that is integral to NTT Com's SD-WAN solution.

 

Enhance Your Competitive Edge with the Leading SD-WAN Provider

 

The real-time streaming network analytics feature is the foundation of NTT Coms' recently launched NTT SD-WAN Service Portfolio, the world's first SD-WAN platform with coverage spanning over 190 countries.

The leading global ICT solution provider has set a new industry benchmark by becoming the world's first global provider to deploy a 100 percent software defined network framework, offering a rich suite of SD-WAN services for global and regional enterprises. This comprehensive portfolio enables enterprises to leverage on innovative solutions which enhance business productivity.

As the workplace becomes increasingly mobile and cloud-based, digital flexibility is vital when connecting people to applications around the world. The NTT platform is based on a ground-breaking architecture that is locally distributed around the world via 75+ local cloud centres. It supports all types of underlying network technologies, including MPLS, Internet broadband and 4G/LTE. Therefore, enterprises have the option of mixing and matching various types of connectivity at different branch offices, depending on what works best for them at that specific location.

This flexibility in regionally customising requirements to get the best speed and application performance provides enterprises with an extra edge which makes all the difference in today's highly competitive markets. 

The NTT platform also supports the delivery of services from customer premises equipment located at customer branch offices. Businesses can rapidly add sites and change configurations from a central point. Such agility speeds up implementation, while centralised control over the network ensures adherence to business and security policies.

The challenge for CIOs in transforming their enterprises is to find solutions that simplify their increasingly complex IT environment. Also, as the sources and volume of network data increases, enterprises will want to take greater advantage of that data and capitalise on its value. SD-WAN, with its inherent capabilities and real-time network analytics provided by NTT Com, is the ideal technology solution with which to achieve these objectives.

 


 

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