Network Monitoring Fabrics Are Key to Scaling IT

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1 Network Monitoring Fabrics Are Key to Scaling IT September 2014 Prepared by: Zeus Kerravala

2 Network Monitoring Fabrics Are Key to Scaling IT by Zeus Kerravala September 2014 º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º º Introduction: The Network Rises in Value ZK Research A Division of Kerravala Consulting The many computing transitions during the past few decades changed the very nature of IT. Mainframe computing gave way to client/server, which ceded to Internet computing. The industry stands on the precipice of the most significant transition to date the shift to mobile and cloud computing. Mobile and cloud computing are network-centric compute paradigms, raising the network from a non-differentiated IT resource to the basis of competitive advantage. Networked computing has freed employees from the shackles of traditional IT models, and workers have the ability to access any application from any device over any network. There is no single factor or tipping point for this era of IT, but rather several factors. The most significant trends driving IT transformation are: Server virtualization: Virtualization has been around for just over a decade. It has been primarily used tactically to consolidate servers. Server virtualization automates many compute-centric data processes and is strategic to many companies. Today there are more virtualized workloads than physical (see Exhibit 1). Advanced server virtualization features, such as workload mobility, create significant server-to-server data-center traffic. Cell: Office: Exhibit 1: Server Virtualization Is Now the Norm What percentage of servers are virtualized compared to five years ago? 75%+ 8% 13% 50% to 74% 10% 39% Influence and insight through social media 30% to 49% 14% 24% % to 29% 16% 41% 0% to 9% 8% 27% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Source: ZK Research, 2014

3 Network Monitoring Fabrics Are Key to Scaling IT 3 Cloud computing: Shifting IT resources to the cloud has become a top-five initiative for almost all IT leaders. As more applications and IT resources are pushed to the cloud, companies will rely on their networks more for secure, consistent delivery of these cloud services. Enterprise mobility: The shift to a mobile workforce has exploded during the past few years. Almost half of workers spend more than 30% of their time away from their desk. Mobility is fueled by robust wireless access, mobile applications and device evolution. However, mobile computing is network centric, and network issues can impact productivity. Bring your own device (BYOD): Consumer technologies are now mainstream. ZK Research finds 82% of CIOs support consumer devices in the workplace a stark contrast compared to just a few years ago. Software-defined networks (SDNs): SDNs bring flexibility, agility and programmability to the network. But they pose a significant challenge for IT managers: Legacy management tools cannot bridge physical and virtual networks. The shift to network-centric computing is the biggest IT transition yet. It will lower the overall cost of running IT, allow companies to create new business processes and bring productivity to new heights. As powerful as this shift is, it is a significant management challenge. Network-centric computing creates unpredictable traffic flows, spans virtual and physical media, and requires tight coupling between compute and network environments. Legacy management approaches and tools simply do not meet the needs of today s environment. To meet the access and scalability requirements for effective management, organizations should deploy a comprehensive network monitoring fabric as the foundation of a scalable IT management strategy. Companies that do not make a network monitoring fabric a priority risk having an increasingly complicated IT environment that is difficult to troubleshoot. Ultimately, this can diminish the return on investment that organizations hope to realize with future IT projects. Section II: Defining a Network Monitoring Fabric Managing IT infrastructure historically has been done by monitoring individual IT elements such as storage, compute devices, servers, the network and security tools. IT attempted to correlate this data manually. While not ideal, it met the needs of the environment because infrastructure was static and deployed in discrete silos. These tools are now dinosaurs and completely ineffective. Measuring IT performance today means the management strategy must be service centric, not element centric. The network is ideally suited for a holistic, service-oriented perspective because: The network is the only pervasive IT resource that interconnects all infrastructure elements. The network understands where traffic originates and where it terminates whether fixed or wireless, virtual or physical. It understands traffic flows. This is the only practical way to bridge the physical/virtual infrastructure gap, removing many of today s IT blind spots. Traditional tools understand either physical or virtual infrastructure, but not both. User experience is best measured from the network up. Understanding how a service traverses the network allows IT to create accurate baselines, and use deviation from the baseline to understand user experience. Companies seeking pervasive visibility deployed a wide variety of tools that provided part of the picture. These included, but were not limited to, security appliances, forensic tools, performance systems, fault-management systems, application monitoring software and analytic engines. These systems were limited in functionality because they were only as good as the data they had access to. This management strategy was adequate for legacy, static IT environments because network managers could deploy specific tools in the most useful areas. However, in today s mobile, virtual environments, IT resources are in motion. The points in the network that require monitoring are also on the move. Legacy management platforms

4 Network Monitoring Fabrics Are Key to Scaling IT 4 cannot provide persistent, consistent visibility across the campus, data center, branch or other locations (see Exhibit 2). Exhibit 2: Network Visibility Is Inconsistent Source: ZK Research, 2014 As IT continues to become more service centric, the problem will be exacerbated. The solution to accessing a wide range of data is to deploy a network monitoring fabric to enable ubiquitous access to services flowing across the network. The monitoring fabric can be thought of as middleware that sits between the network infrastructure and management and security tools. A network monitoring fabric delivers pervasive, consistent visibility into the millions of network flows, thousands of events, and numerous changes within the network in real time. The primary benefits of network monitoring fabric are: Removes IT blind spots: The fabric has visibility across physical and virtual borders, removing blind spots created by virtualization. It can also provide clarity into mobile and cloud environments two other emerging areas that create significant IT blind spots. Maximizes investment in current management tools: With a monitoring fabric in place, the existing tools that currently are limited in value by the number of connection points, volume of traffic or place in the network can deliver full value, increasing ROI (see Exhibit 3). Provides a scalable path to holistic service management: True end-to-end service management has been mostly a vision. A monitoring fabric gives service management tools normalized, filtered information that can interpolate user experience, giving IT the insight needed to manage services through the lens of the user, instead of just monitoring the network. Transforms IT management: A network monitoring fabric can transform almost every part of IT management, such as: Predictive service management: Combined with a service management front end, IT organizations can establish consistent baselines for different applications. The baseline can be monitored consistently and tracked, and IT can use data to predict performance problems. Juxtapose this with today s environment, where IT simply reacts to user problems. Improved network security: Establishing baselines is critical to network security. Any significant or rapid deviation from the norm could indicate a security breach. Monitoring fabrics provide more information to security tools on possible security breaches faster and more accurately. Unified communications (UC) management: UC is built on a set of real-time, latency-sensitive applications such as VoIP and enterprise video. The real-time nature of these tools makes them extremely hard to troubleshoot. Monitoring fabrics provide visibility into current and historical UC traffic to help manage the network and avoid UC performance problems.

5 Network Monitoring Fabrics Are Key to Scaling IT 5 Exhibit 3: Network Visibility Is Inconsistent Source: ZK Research, 2014 Section III: What to Look for in a Solution Provider The decision to implement a scalable network monitoring fabric is critical to creating an IT scale to support trends such as mobility and cloud computing. However, the choice of a provider isn t obvious. The following are some important factors: Transparent to the network: The monitoring fabric must be transparent. It must operate with no packet loss and very low latency to ensure accurate measurements. It should be able to handle millions of traffic flows per second without noticeable degradation. Scalable fabric: A monitoring fabric must scale enterprise wide. Most organizations should start with a small, focused deployment and systematically scale to large deployments with hundreds of physical interfaces across many distributed locations. High-bandwidth capabilities: While Gigabit and 10 Gigabit are standard, 40 Gigabit Ethernet is ramping up quickly. Products deployed today should support high port densities for 1 and 10 Gigabit interfaces, with capacity for a reasonable number of 40-Gigabit ports to ensure the ability to support high-speed trunks. 100 Gigabit ready: Investments in network monitoring switches should only be made in platforms that will seamlessly support 100 Gigabit links to minimize forklift upgrades as network capacity requirements grow. Attention should be paid to platform capacity to ensure selected products will support a sufficient number of 100 Gigabit links without costly backplane upgrades. Intelligent traffic direction: It is not optimal to send all traffic to every management tool. A network monitoring fabric should know what traffic is relevant to each system and direct it at wire speed to any available port. Advanced features: A monitoring fabric should go beyond simple ingress and egress traffic filtering. It should add features that make the solution more intelligent such as deduplication, packet trimming and MPLS stripping. A key differentiator for a network monitoring fabric is high manageability. Robust management features mean faster deployment, easier management and maximum ROI. However, fabric management is multifaceted, with the following key requirements: End-to-end provisioning and management: A multilocation, multi-device deployment should be managed as a single fabric, not a collection of devices. Provisioning should be done using an intuitive GUI with pointand-click and drag-and-drop tools. Many network monitoring switch vendors claim to use a systems approach, but each device must be managed independently, and end-to-end visibility is difficult to achieve.

6 Network Monitoring Fabrics Are Key to Scaling IT 6 Automation: Automating network management tasks improves network reliability and frees valuable time for IT to focus on strategic initiatives. A monitoring fabric must have a strong GUI to enable automation of repetitive tasks. Customization through scripts and APIs: Scripts and APIs enable monitoring fabrics to interface with other management tools, applications or infrastructure. This is a key step in building a holistic IT management strategy. Roles-based administration: A network monitoring fabric solution should allow multiple IT teams to provision and manage traffic flows from the monitoring fabric. However, various teams should have different rules and privileges based on roles and policies to ensure one group s needs do not affect another s. Section IV: The Value of Integration with a Management Solution Shifts in computing are driving the need for a next-generation enterprise network. However, organizations will not be able to leverage the new networking without a holistic service management strategy that enables IT leaders to know the network. A robust and flexible monitoring fabric is the underlying foundation of a robust service management strategy. A monitoring fabric enables a common middleware layer that provides consistent information to the tools used to manage IT infrastructure. Deploying a monitoring fabric is a good first step, but IT organizations will realize even more value with a solution that integrates monitoring fabric and management tools. An integrated solution can provide many benefits, including: Lower complexity: While a monitoring fabric should work well with any management tool, there may be some added complexity when deploying solutions independently. An integrated solution is significantly less complex; no customization is needed to tie the layers together. Streamlined management: An integrated solution provides a single point of management for monitoring an end-to-end fabric. This improves reliability because configuration tasks and changes only need to be performed once instead of once per tool. This improves overall uptime and raises the value of the monitoring fabric. Greater intelligence: Integrating a monitoring fabric with management tools adds significant intelligence to the overall solution. Any kind of packet tagging or condition-specific triggers will be understood by both. An integrated solution creates a one-plus-one-equals-three scenario. Section V: Conclusion and Recommendations Corporate IT is undergoing the most significant shift since the birth of computing. Businesses can accomplish much more than even a few years ago as they move closer to being able to deliver any content or application to any device over any network. Mobile and cloud computing are both network-centric compute paradigms, and they are shifting from being a nondifferentiated IT asset to being the basis of competitive advantage. However, this compute model is not without its challenges. The complexity of IT continues to grow as the technology environment becomes more mobile, virtual and consumerized. As IT continues to evolve at an accelerated pace, it is critical for organizations to have much better insight and visibility into the network. Deploying a monitoring fabric enables IT managers to understand who is on the network, what traffic is traversing it, where data is accessed from and how the overall environment is performing. Deploying a network monitoring fabric is key to scaling IT and should be near the top of every CIO s list of critical IT initiatives. To help get started, ZK Research makes the following recommendations: Know the network. Understanding where traffic flows, what normal baselines are, and what changes are taking place will help network managers be more predictive. IT will be able to address problems before they degrade the user experience.

7 Network Monitoring Fabrics Are Key to Scaling IT 7 Deploy a network monitoring fabric to improve operational intelligence. This is the only way companies can fully enable the network as a strategic platform for mobile and cloud computing. A monitoring fabric gives IT the necessary visibility and control to evolve IT without putting the business at risk. Consider an integrated monitoring fabric and management system. An integrated solution raises the overall value of both management tools and monitoring fabric as it increases visibility, shortens troubleshooting times and gives customers a single solution to manage. : A Division of Kerravala Consulting All rights reserved. Reproduction or redistribution in any form without the express prior permission of ZK Research is expressly prohibited. For questions, comments or further information,

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