Network visibility key to application performance

* Aberdeen Group studies enterprises’ network visibility initiatives and controls

Aberdeen Group recently tackled the issue of network visibility, and for another week, its research on the topic is available for free.

Research analyst Bojan Simic wrote the report, “The Real Value of Network Visibility,” which is based on a survey of 205 organizations conducted in December 2007 to identify best practices around enterprises’ network visibility initiatives and controls.

I caught up with Simic recently and we chatted about how enterprise companies are using tools for network monitoring, troubleshooting, analytics and simulation.

Managing networks has become a lot more complex for organizations over the last two years, and what many companies find challenging is figuring out where to start, Simic says. That’s part of the reason Aberdeen decided to do this research, he says.

“We were getting requests from end users who said they needed some place to start, a way to gather basic information about network performance, identify bottlenecks, and then go from there to see if they need to optimize their networks or just need to make better decisions about the way they manage their networks,” Simic says.

Enterprises that get it -- those that Aberdeen deems “best in class” when it comes to network visibility -- share a few common characteristics. For example, they are three times more likely to understand the interdependencies that exist among applications on their networks than those companies Aberdeen says are “laggards.” Best-in-class companies also are three times more likely to have tools for creating custom profiles for monitoring groups of network devices, and twice as likely to be able to segment application response times into server, network and application delays.

Another key characteristic is the ability to measure bandwidth consumption by application or network location, Simic says. “If you’re trying to implement QoS policies and you don’t have visibility into bandwidth consumption by application, you’re making decisions kind of blindly,” he says.

These capabilities pay off for the best-in-class enterprises: They reported a 92% average success rate in resolving issues with application performance before end users are impacted, and an 84% average success rate in resolving issues with network hardware before end users are impacted.

For companies that want to achieve best-in-class network visibility, Aberdeen recommends these actions:

* Establish baselines for normal network performance.

* Use application response times (rather than waiting for end users to complain) to evaluate network performance.

* Develop capabilities for measuring bandwidth consumption per location and per application.

* Enable remote access to network performance data and remote troubleshooting of network performance.

* Develop capabilities for simulating network performance.

A complimentary copy of the Aberdeen report, “The Real Value of Network Visibility,” is available for a limited time on the research firm’s Web site. Check it out soon: After February 29, Aberdeen will begin charging for the report, Simic says.

Also, you can read more here and here about another Aberdeen report released last fall, “Optimizing WAN for Application Acceleration,” which lays out what best-in-class organizations do to improve network and application performance.

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