One Trick To Creating Better and Faster Rollouts
February 01, 2018

Keith Bromley
Ixia

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If you have not been engaging in proactive monitoring efforts, it’s something you might want to consider. Most IT monitoring efforts are reactive — you either periodically try some basic attempts to find problems on the live network or you decide to wait and respond to customer complaints. This is supported by the EMA Network Management Megatrends 2016 report which states that approximately 40% of network problems are detected and reported by end users.

Everyone in IT understands this. It’s unfortunate but true — you can’t be everywhere doing everything for everyone. In addition, the report states that 26% of the respondents reported that one of their top networking challenges is the lack of end-to-end, multisite network visibility and troubleshooting capabilities. This is where visibility technology can help by giving you access to critical monitoring, when you need it and in the format you need it.

But improved visibility isn’t usually enough. You are probably going to need a more proactive troubleshooting approach as well. Proactive monitoring uses visibility technology to actively test your solution either before rollout, during rollout, or after rollout. For instance, it can be used to provide better and faster network and application rollouts by pre-testing the network with synthetic traffic to understand how the solution will perform against either specific application traffic or a combination of traffic types. The synthetic traffic provides you the network and/or application loading of a “busy hour” and the flexibility to perform evaluations during the network maintenance window.

Proactive monitoring has several fundamental benefits including the ability to:

■ Know the performance level of your network immediately

■ Understand how well your applications are running

■ Validate SLAs — both on-premises and in the cloud

■ Test upgrades during maintenance windows before company employees do

Network performance and application performance testing may sound simple, but these can actually be difficult to ascertain. To get a true indication of network performance, the network needs to have a large amount of traffic on it, which makes you dependent upon peak busy hours. This type of solution allows you to place probes anywhere in your network and test whenever you want to. It also allows you to accurately simulate the right type of traffic so that Application Performance Management (APM) tools can observe how well applications are truly performing. For instance, this allows you to simulate small packets or Skype-like data if you want to test your instant message (IM)/voice/video solution.

Once you’ve conducted your proactive monitoring test cases, you’ll have the information you need to either continue with your solution update (i.e. continue with the network or application rollout) or perform a rollback (before it affects any users outside of the maintenance window).

Proactive monitoring also allows you to perform SLA validation during business hours, since it is not service disrupting. This allows you validate the SLA performance at will. The information gathered can then be used to inform management about which goals are being met. If goals are not being met, you can use the impartial data you have collected and contact your vendor to have them either fix any observed network problems, or give you a discount if they are failing to meet agreed upon SLAs.

The final benefit is that there are proactive monitoring solutions on the market that let you test your on-premises solution as well as your cloud solution. This can be especially important if you have a hybrid solution right now, and are in the (often multi-year) process of transitioning from the physical to the virtual (cloud) world. A proactive monitoring testing and monitoring approach gives you the confidence that your application rollouts will be successful in either network.

Keith Bromley is Senior Solutions Marketing Manager for Ixia
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