Eyes on the prize: Why network visibility is key to global connectivity
Jean-Philippe Avelange, Chief Information Officer at Expereo
Internet connectivity is key to modern business operations, and it lies at the heart of two of the most significant technology trends in the 21st century: the shift to the cloud, and the growth in hybrid working. Yet many businesses’ network infrastructure has not been set up with cloud and application performance in mind, often leading to issues like network latency, poor performance quality, and service quality issues.
While connectivity has become a critical asset to business growth and performance, optimizing network connectivity is not as straightforward as it seems. Although the internet may seem to be a single, unified network, it is actually a worldwide system of individual networks each with its own variations and vulnerabilities. This becomes even more complex when data starts to traverse the globe. In Africa, for example, there is a patchwork of internet services, each with its own limitations, whereas, in China, there is no formal peering between ISPs, which can significantly slow down traffic.
What’s more, global enterprises are often afflicted with varying cloud and application performance depending on location and service demand on any given day. Therefore, without an overall view of your network, identifying the root cause of any performance issues can be impossible.
Network management platform
In order to optimise network connectivity, businesses need to adopt a network management platform that equips them with a single, unified view of their network, data, and traffic. This will enable traffic to be re-routed if bottlenecks are identified with a specific ISP to avoid traffic overload. The right platform will also equip network managers with real-time insight into network performance to provide a full overview of the performance of their internet and overlay networks, like SD-WAN services, which are designed to improve performance by enabling flexible routing depending on individual application requirements.
However, SD-WAN performance is also dependent on how good your network underlay connectivity is, and having the wrong internet connection for any of your sites may result in more issues like network congestion, unpredictable connections, and inadequate peering. This is why your network management platform needs to provide a complete overview of your overlay network, as well as internet connection, and how they interact. With this in place, ISPs can be monitored for performance and your SD-WAN infrastructure will be far more efficient in selecting a high-performance route in real time, ultimately improving internet connectivity.
As you can imagine, business needs are individual and call for a different solution as it relates to global communication, data collection and sharing, and reporting. To address your unique needs, you need a platform that will focus on what you require and provide solutions appropriate to your specific strategies.
Flexibility within a network visibility solution must therefore be a priority in order to provide robust support for a company’s global connectivity. The said platform must also be malleable to each business’s specific set-up and have the option to focus on whichever aspect the user wants, whether it be underlying infrastructure and individual applications, or performance, operating a high-level view of the quality of user experience. Platforms can also be deployed to improve customer experience by consolidating access to open customer service cases, allowing the management of invoices, and seeing performance statistics, for example.
Optimizing the Cloud
The move from on-site IT infrastructure to the cloud can also lead to blind spots within network performance monitoring tools. These gaps often originate from the transition to the cloud and are commonly a significant contributor to performance issues that arise down the line.
The fact is, the majority of traditional network monitoring tools don’t work within the cloud. Attempts to adapt outdated tools within the cloud can counteract the savings gained from migrating to the cloud in the first place, as monitoring costs eat away at precious resources. In order to avoid this, businesses should be applying application monitoring tools that reach beyond the standard on-site infrastructure to reduce and lessen the impact of blind spots during and after migration.
Proactivity over Reactivity
In this era of connectivity, inefficient network connectivity comes with very real and serious impacts. Down-time, issues, and failures are the enemies of productivity, and without an in-depth understanding of a company’s network, IT teams are faced with a slower process when solving connectivity problems. Informed by the status of their network, these teams will be empowered to make real-time decisions that meaningfully impact the business.
Once businesses have established their access to a high level of visibility over their network infrastructure, it becomes much easier to view processes from the top down and shift from reactive responses to proactive decision-making. The timely insights made available through full visibility can ensure teams have the ability to make real-time decisions on the ground floor of the business.
Empowering teams with a platform that ensures visibility over network infrastructure is looking to be a key priority in 2023 and the coming years. By considering your network connectivity as the foundation of your work environment, and supporting these foundations appropriately, you are future-proofing your business and safeguarding your investments into your own infrastructure.