What is Network Visibility for APM and NPM?
October 26, 2017

Keith Bromley
Ixia

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Most everyone in IT has heard about network performance monitoring (NPM) and application performance monitoring (APM) tools. But what are the real benefits? For instance, what kind of information do I really get and is it worth the investment? Also, what about the complexity involved with these types of solutions?

The answer boils down to implementation. Essentially, did you install a visibility architecture first (so that you can optimize the flow of information to APM and NPM tools), or did you just add point solutions for APM and NPM? This answer will determine the effectiveness of your application monitoring solutions.

Any performance monitoring solution is only as good as the quality of data feeding the tools

The visibility architecture concept is extremely important because it organizes the flow of information to security and monitoring tools. Without it, you don’t know what the quality and integrity of the input data to the tools is. A visibility architecture delivers an end-to-end infrastructure which enables physical and virtual network, application, and security visibility. Specifically, network packet brokers can be included in the architecture to parse the requisite data needed and distribute that data to one or more application monitoring tools.

Once the network packet brokers are installed, it makes it much easier for the APM and NPM solutions to optimize your performance. In addition to these tools, other capabilities, like application intelligence and proactive network monitoring, can be installed as part of the visibility architecture to further increase the range of capabilities.

Here are some example use cases of what you can accomplish when a visibility architecture is combined with performance monitoring tools:

■ NPM solutions can be used to improve the quality of service (QoS) on the network and optimize the network service level agreement (SLA) performance.

■ APM solutions can be used to improve quality of experience (QoE) and optimize SLA performance for network applications, i.e. capture data that can be used by an APM tool to observe and diagnose application slowness.

■ APM tools can be used to analyze user behaviors.

■ Application intelligence can be used to identify slow or underperforming applications and network bottlenecks.

■ Proactive monitoring can be used to provide better and faster network rollouts by pre-testing the network with synthetic traffic to understand how it performs against either specific application traffic or a combination of traffic types.

■ Proactive troubleshooting can be combined with application intelligence to help you more quickly anticipate where network and application problems may be coming from.

■ It is also possible to prevent applications from overloading the network bandwidth by using application intelligence to “see” application growth on the bandwidth in real-time and prevent catastrophic events.

■ You can also conduct inline network performance monitoring to optimize A/B traffic route flows (i.e. investigate path latency and performance problems)

In the end, any performance monitoring solution is only as good as the quality of data feeding the tools. Extraneous and duplicate data will affect the ability and speed of monitoring tools to come to an accurate analysis. A few minutes of time to understand your network visibility and the types of blind you have might be well worth it.

Keith Bromley is Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing at Ixia Solutions Group, a Keysight Technologies business
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