Regardless of the industry, organizations embarking on a digital journey are moving away from the traditional IP address/packet-centric approach to an application-centric approach to enhance productivity and customer experience. This puts the onus on the network to deliver the best experience to the end users/customers accessing these applications. To achieve this objective, network engineers need access to tools and solutions that provide in-depth network performance visibility, with a focus on application experience.
Network architecture in the LAN, WAN, and datacenter is also undergoing transformation with the growing popularity of software-defined technologies like Software Defined Access for LAN, Software Defined WAN, and Software Defined Networks for the datacenter. Here too, the focus is on applications rather than the IP packet. Similarly, enterprise IT infrastructure is experiencing unprecedented changes. Virtualization, hybrid cloud computing, mobility, collaboration and infrastructure consolidation, are driving increased adoption of application-centric approaches such as Software as a Service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Clearly, there’s a growing need for unified view around application visibility and monitoring, service assurance, real-time troubleshooting and analytics - to enable enterprises to fulfil their digital customer experience promise.
In Feb 2019, Gartner estimated the size of the NPMD tool market to be $2.2 billion, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 1.8%1. This market includes application performance monitoring (APM), IT infrastructure monitoring, artificial intelligence for IT operations platforms, and digital experience monitoring.
The need for innovation in NPM
An application-centric network requires next-gen tools that understand the application landscape through tight integration with the underlying infrastructure, providing the ability to understand various flows prevalent in the network. Deploying an innovative network performance management (NPM) architecture that uses existing tools, wherever possible, and brings in new tools and solutions to close the gaps in visibility and analysis (See Figure 1) is the ideal way to achieve this.
Using such architecture, organizations can retain their traditional methods of gathering application flow data like Netflow, SPAN and physical/virtual taps, and centralized tools/analyzers. All they need to do is deploy an orchestration/intent layer. The orchestration/intent layer manages all the underlying tools provided by multiple vendors and creates a single pane of glass for ease of management and analysis. They can choose a custom orchestration layer based on their existing environment and business objectives.
Assuring superior digital user experience
The NPM architecture discussed in this paper has multiple use-cases: resource visibility, monitoring and reporting, capacity planning, service assurance, real-time troubleshooting, forensic investigation, diagnostics, change management, and security complaint audit and analytics. Other value-additions include user experience, cloud-based app and business impact monitoring, network usage reporting, and security enablement. Businesses that deploy such innovative NPM architecture not only monitor and collect network flows for outage or performance degradation resolution but also identify performance optimization opportunities through diagnosis, analysis and root-cause analysis. The result: superior user experience of new-age digital services.