Visualizing Network HealthHow to Drive Visibility into Complex InfrastructuresWritten by Dell SoftwareIntroductionDeep infrastructure visibility enables network administratorsand IT professionals to proactively manage (or overhaul)data center resources to boost performance or productivity,address network performance or availability issues, and providean optimal user experience. In fact, the Aberdeen Researchreport “The Real Value of Network Visibility” found that networkperformance projects “are becoming major components ofenterprise strategies for better customer service, profitability,and revenue growth.”Why has network performance become increasingly important?The most important factor is that more and more business-critical applications depend on the network. Trends such asglobalization, virtual workplaces and mobility are leading tothe extension of applications, data and unified communicationtools to a broader set of users across distributed locations.However, as networks become more complex to support thesedemands, real-time visibility becomes increasingly difficult.Network administrators must now support heterogeneousequipment, converged data, wireless access and mobility,hybrid cloud environments, real-time applications, virtualizeddata centers, next-generation devices, and more—and thatcomplexity makes deep visibility a bigger challenge.This whitepaper arms network administrators and managedservice providers (MSPs) with insight into the trends that impactnetwork complexity, details about the capabilities required tosupport visibility, and a quick look at Dell’s Foglight NMS, asolution that delivers comprehensive network visibility andactionable monitoring.
2As organizationssupport officelocations aroundthe world, the abilityfor IT professionalsto remotelymanage end userapplications ormachines becomesincreasinglyimportant.Trends driving networkcomplexity todayBefore we delve into best practices forgaining network visibility, it’s importantto understand the characteristics ofnetworks today and the macro IT trendsthat have added to their complexity.Fluid networksNew technologies are constantlyemerging that promise to improvespeed and reduce costs, and theneeds of both users applications areconstantly evolving as well. Therefore,today’s networks are increasinglyfluid, changing on demand to meetapplication and service needs. A singlenetwork today could have a blend ofphysical and virtual servers or desktopsthat support wireless and wired networkaccess for a wide range of devices fromsmart phones to tablets, laptops anddesktops, all from different vendorsand all running on different operatingsystems. Managing these complexnetwork device configurations using avariety of different tools wastes time andintroduces more room for error.Quick facts:• According to an infographic by Lenovo andQualcomm, 147.2 million tablets will ship by2015, with 45 million of those purchasedby businesses.• IDC forecasts that more than 23 percent ofall servers shipped in 2014 will be activelysupporting virtual machine technology.• Gartner reports that global spending onpublic cloud services is expected to growto $110.3B through 2016.• Ericsson, a leading mobile solution provider,predicts that there will be 50 billionconnected devices by 2020 and expectsmobile data traffic to grow 10 timesby 2016.• Diverse operating systems continue to beused: Net Applications tracked usage datafrom 40,000 websites and 160 millionunique visitors and found that access fromWindows 7 machines accounted for 44.48%of monitored activity, Windows XP for39.51% and Windows Vista for 5.25%. MacOS X 10.8 and Windows 8 rounded out thetop five with 2.44% and 2.26%, respectively.Distributed workforce and globalizationDespite steps back from some largecompanies, more and more employeeswork outside the office. In fact, theindependent employment research firmTelework Research Network reportsthat in 2013, 20–30 million Americanswill work from home at least once aweek. Remote or teleworking is madepossible by network extensions andthe fact that applications, data andunified communication tools are nowlargely distributed. Countless businessapplications support web access,enabling employees to access dataanywhere, anytime.Globalization is also changing howdata center resources are used. Asorganizations support office locationsaround the world, the ability for ITprofessionals to remotely manage enduser applications or machines becomesincreasingly important. Networkadministrators and MSPs who supportcustomers remotely should look forsolutions that enable remote access(from across an office, city or country)without distributing end-user activity.BYOD and the consumerization of ITIntelligent mobile devices in theworkplace are also placing significantdemands on networks. With the trendtoward “bring your own device” (BYOD),employees now expect to use personaldevices as well as company-issueddevices for work, and they demand thesame anywhere, anytime network accessfor their business applications as theyget on their personal devices. Whilemobile devices and BYOD can improveuser satisfaction and productivity, thesetrends introduce significant securityconcerns and can cause bandwidthbottlenecks. The network administratoris forced to balance IT infrastructuresecurity with user demands while nowmanaging more devices.Share:
3Data alone is notenough to addresscomplex challenges;IT professionalsneed a solutionthat enables themto quickly identifyexceptions andabnormalitiesand that offerstrustworthy adviceand automationworkflow to resolveproblems quickly.Cloud computing andvirtual environmentsIn many cases, company data is no longerhoused within a company’s four walls.Instead it’s at data centers or in public,private or hybrid cloud environments.As cloud computing and convergedinfrastructure reshape corporatedata centers, network complexityincreases and network administratorsmust carefully monitor and manageconnectivity and WAN optimization.VoIP and unified communicationsReal-time data, social networks, video,telepresence, VoIP, intelligent electronicdevices (such as RFID) and unifiedcommunications are all raising thebar for raw network throughput forenterprises and service providers alike.These applications, designed to fostercollaboration and user productivity, arebandwidth hogs with high potentialto disrupt the performance of otherbusiness-critical applications. As morestreaming applications are incorporatedinto a network, IT professionals needto carefully review network bandwidthusage and requirements to ensureuptime of all applications.Choosing the right networkmanagement solutionsKey capabilities for gainingnetwork visibilityThe reality, then, is that today, networksare increasing complex, fluid anddistributed, and they are being taxed byan explosion of data. At the same time,critical business systems, employeeproductivity, communication andcustomer-facing sites all rely on efficientand stable network operation. Managingtoday’s networks at a reasonable costrequires simplifying the complexityand giving network administratorsinfrastructure-wide visibility to ensureoperational performance.What capabilities are critical to attainingthe visibility required to manage networkinfrastructure complexity? Let’s review afew of the most important:• Discovery and infrastructure topologymapping—Dynamic discovery of allequipment in the IT infrastructure enablesmapping of their current locations,configurations and interdependencies.The more types of devices the discoverytechnology can detect, identify andsupport, the better visibility the networkadministrator will have.• Real-time access across the infrastructure—Network visibility is most effective whenit happens in real time; delayed or staticviews of network components simplydo not provide network administratorswith the information they need to makeproactive adjustments to ensure networkavailability and performance. Withoutreal-time visibility across the entire networkinfrastructure, administrators can, atbest, correct issues after they occur andimplement new equipment. Only real-timevisibility can enable proactive analysis tohelp administrators pinpoint the root causeof intermittent, hard-to-find problems.• Answers, not data—Actionable informationabout network health, faults, bandwidthhogs and performance issues reducesmean-time-to-resolution (MTTR). Thereare a lot of monitoring solutions on themarket, but data alone is not enoughto address complex challenges; ITprofessionals need a solution that enablesthem to quickly identify exceptions andabnormalities and that offers trustworthyadvice and automation workflow to resolveproblems quickly.Many remote management platforms areavailable to manage servers, desktopsand laptops. Dell’s performancemonitoring solutions for networkmanagement go much further, enablingIT professionals to proactively resolveproblems before they impact client andend-user satisfaction.Share:
4In particular, Foglight NetworkManagement System (NMS) enablesyou to easily discover, map and monitornetwork components in disparatelocations across the globe. Its actionableinsights help you detect, diagnose andresolve potential issues anywhere in thestack, helping ensure your network’sperformance and availability.Network discoveryFoglight NMS makes network discoverysimple. You begin by scanning a networkusing the techniques you choose inorder to populate a database with thedevices you want to monitor, as shownin Figure 1. The solution automaticallyassigns devices based on the policiesyou define, yielding the data you want(and need) to see.Network mappingOnce discovery is complete, FoglightNMS creates easy-to-view networktopologies that deliver visibility intoyour LAN or WAN (see Figure 2). Thesediagrams are automatically updatedwhen devices are added or removedfrom the network, so they provide aquick view of the current status of yourFoglight NetworkManagementSystem (NMS)enables you to easilydiscover, map andmonitor networkcomponents indisparate locationsacross the globe.Figure 1. Foglight NMS makes network discovery easy.Figure 2. Foglight NMS provides easy-to-view network topologies—and automaticallyupdates them when devices are added or removed from the network.Share:
5network, enabling you to check forbroken connections and determine thelocation and details of the devices withinthe network.Dashboard setup and customizationThe Foglight NMS dashboard provideshigh-level overviews of networkperformance, fault management anddevice availability, as shown in Figure 3.You can easily customize the dashboardfor visibility into critical deviceinformation such as CPU load, networkinterface traffic, latency and other keyperformance indicators.Network traffic monitoring andreal-time alertsFoglight NMS gives networkadministrators and MSPs visibilityinto which users or applications aregenerating traffic on the network andhow much network bandwidth they areconsuming (see Figure 4). You can drilldown into applications, conversations,domains and endpoints to determinehow bandwidth usage impacts thenetwork as a whole. Foglight NMS notonly identifies potentially problematictraffic spikes or bursts, but it alsoprovides alerts to notify you aboutemerging issues in real time.Syslog and event log monitoringYou can set Foglight NMS to receive,log and display Syslog messages fromrouters, switches and other Syslog-enabled devices, so you’ll have thecomplete information you need todetect problems quickly.The Foglight NMSdashboard provideshigh-level overviewsof networkperformance, faultmanagement anddevice availability.Figure 3. The Foglight NMS dashboard provides high-level overviews of networkperformance, fault management and device availability, and you can easily customizeit to meet your specific needs.Figure 4. Foglight NMS provides visibility into which users or applications are generatingtraffic on the network and how much network bandwidth they are consuming.Share:
6Foglight NMS notonly identifiespotentiallyproblematic trafficspikes or bursts,but it also providesalerts to notify youabout emergingproblems inreal time.ConclusionNetworks today are complex andconstantly changing. Ensuring theirstability and performance is essentialto the delivering an optimal userexperience and ensuring the availabilityof business-critical applications. Toeffectively manage those networks,administrators need complete networkvisibility, from network discovery andmapping to monitoring of networktraffic. Dell’s performance monitoringsolutions deliver those capabilities andmore, enabling network administratorsand MSPs to proactively manage theirnetworks and address emerging issuesto ensure high application performanceand user satisfaction.To learn moreTo learn more, or to download a free,30-day, fully functional trial of FoglightNMS, please visit quest.com/foglight-network-management-system/.You can also contact us by phone,toll-free, at 1-800-360-9379,option 9, ext. 17873, or by emailat email@example.com.Figure 5. Foglight NMS provides Syslog and event log monitoring.Share: