Network Visibility Importance

The complexity of modern enterprise networks is increasing due to a number of factors, and deeper levels of network visibility are necessary to aid in their management and troubleshooting. In a survey more than two-thirds of respondents stated that they expect the number of requests to capture network data (including metadata and packet-level data) to increase dramatically, driven by the needs of a variety of IT groups including network architecture, security, compliance, applications, and IT audit teams.

Why Network Visibility is important?

Network performance challenges are increasing, and result from the size, complexity and mobility of modern network environments. The number one indicated network performance challenge that respondents face is monitoring/managing network performance between groups of web, application, and database servers in the data center. The second most cited challenge by respondents is maintaining end-to-end network performance to endpoint devices connecting either via public networks or wide area networks. These challenges reflect a rapidly changing environment marked by centralized data centers and an increasingly mobile workforce, which requires extending the boundary of end-to-end management to mobile devices. Other challenges include tuning the network, providing Quality of Service (QoS) based on traffic or application, and understanding network latency.

Security challenges are increased when there is a lack of proper network visibility for incident detection and resolution. The most often cited challenges from respondents include the struggle to capture network behavior for incident detection, monitoring network flows for anomalous behavior, the ability to capture and analyze logs from network and security devices, and the ability to establish a baseline of normal network behavior.

Organizations struggle with multiple network monitoring tools to capture network traffic and only see that number increasing in 2014. More than two-thirds of respondents stated that they expect the number of requests to capture network data (including metadata and packet-level data) to increase dramatically. Requests to capture network data are also now being initiated by the network architecture, security, compliance, and IT audit and application teams.

More than half of organizations’ monitoring tools cannot cope with increased 10GbE network throughput. 54% of organizations find that they either sometimes or frequently cannot cope with the increased throughput or are dropping packets due to the increased throughput.
Despite the challenges faced by organizations with rapidly growing and complex network environments, the ability to capture network data has never been more important. Network outages have proven to be disastrous from the cost of downtime alone – which can be millions of dollars per hour – not to mention the amount of dedicated resources it takes to identify root cause of these outages

Network monitoring & faster troubleshooting
Keeping an eye on the network at all times can help in proactive issue detection, hence,Faster troubleshooting. This can be done using a tool and some of these tools even have alerting, which will intimate you once a preset threshold value is crossed.

Application monitoring and profiling
Helps in a detailed monitoring of all the applications. Which application, when was it used and by whom was it used, are some of the few questions that can be answered by getting a wholesome network visibility. The right tool will let you map applications given the port, protocol and IP address to be more specific.

Capacity planning and network trends
Network visibility not only lets you see the present state of your network, also lets you foresee the network growth trend and take informed, wise capacity planning decisions

Detection of unauthorized wan traffic
Detect the unauthorized WAN traffic hogging the bandwidth and thus choking the business critical applications. If you have the right tool, you can even monitor the applications using dynamic ports.

How to Achieve Network Visibility

• Traditionally network administrators relied on Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to monitor bandwidth. Although SNMP facilitates capacity planning, it does little to monitor traffic applications and patterns which are critical to know the performance of specific business critical applications. Packet and byte interface counters are useful but understanding which IP addresses are the source and destination of traffic and which applications are generating the traffic is invaluable.

• Network probes are hardware devices that are designed to passively collect data. Probes provide the mechanism needed to gather data essential to the construction of network history and trends. A network TAP is a hardware device which provides away to access the data flowing across a computer network. But network TAPs and probes require additional hardware, so are not as cheap as technologies that leverage capabilities that are built into the network devices.

• To get the significant information on the application used in the network and granular information on how the bandwidth is consumed in the network, Cisco came up with a technology called NetFlow