End-User Monitoring is Displacing SNMP
August 29, 2016

Panos Vouzis
NetBeez

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The cloud revolution has affected all facets of the IT realm, including network and application monitoring. SNMP monitoring gives us the status of our devices, but doesn’t capture the end-user experience. We need to know what users experience regardless of what device, network and ISP connects them to cloud applications.

On-premise hardware is being eliminated one router and one switch at a time. Since 2015, we have been seeing security-sensitive sectors migrating infrastructure from private to public cloud providers. The less hardware under management, the less important SNMP monitoring is.

In the not so distant future, the only hardware that will exist on-premise will be an edge device managed over the cloud. This will reduce the amount of hardware remaining under IT’s management. Overall complexity won’t go away, though, due to the number and gamut of devices connected to the network.

The IoT transformation within our connected world enables everything from personal devices to modern appliances to talk with us, and with each other refrigerators and door locks to talk to us and to each other. Each of these devices might also have its own Internet connection with a specific ISP, further increasing complexity and application dependency.

As applications are moving from private data centers to the cloud, the only sites that will remain under management with visibility and control will be office locations. Additionally, if an employee uses a third party application, the only visibility we have is from the employee's perspective because we don’t manage the cloud infrastructure that hosts the application. Ultimately, SNMP falls short monitoring the end-user experience; can the users use their applications and get their job done?

What are the options available to network administrators?

There are two ways to monitor the user experience: passive traffic capture and active monitoring.

Passive traffic capture

With passive capture we collect and analyze real user traffic. This remains useful if we want to know the in and out of a gateway for forensics and post mortem analysis. However, with hundreds or thousands of users, the amount of data can be overwhelming, requiring high storage capacity to save only a few days’ worth of data. Also, it captures network and application performance data only when there are active users on the network. A typical use case is to scan for top talkers and take measurements to mitigate excessive bandwidth utilization.

Active Monitoring

Active monitoring works by simulating a user on the network by emulating the user behavior. This is accomplished by agents installed exactly where the users are: on the wired or wireless network as clients. This gives the flexibility to test and monitor the network independent to the user behavior. Historical data can be stored for months or years. If a VPN split tunnel fails, you might not know of the incident until a user picks up the phone to open a ticket. With active monitoring you can be notified within seconds.

Real end-user monitoring and passive capture are taking the front seat and IT professionals have started complementing or replacing SNMP with a new generation of monitoring tools. This trend will continue and it will change the landscape of the application performance monitoring arena.

Panos Vouzis is Co-Founder and COO of NetBeez.

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