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Network Analysis in the Cloud

In an earlier post, we discussed whether cloud computing will lead to the demise of network analysis. That is, since applications are being run on third party infrastructure, monitoring one’s own network to maintain a functional system within the enterprise seems somehow less pertinent. We maintain that while moving to the cloud will alter current network analysis processes and priorities, a solid network is still essential for handling communication between users and applications. In Essence, only the focus of network management and analysis changes, not the need. Instead of managing infrastructure, organizations manage service availability and performance.

So, how must an organization approach “anaylzing” its network within the context of a cloud environment? Before moving to any new environment, cloud or otherwise, consider baselining and security issues.

Baselining - It is essential to establish clear, long-term baselines before transitioning an application or applications to the cloud. Baselining involves recording network traffic and performance, saving it for future reference and/or reviewing it to see traffic patterns. Once baselines are saved, they can be used as a benchmark with which to  compare other traffic patterns. By identifying baselines, organizations can then verify the performance of transactions that cross multiple applications, which is key in a new cloud environment. Additionally, once organizations are aware of their own network performance baselines, they can better test and validate cloud vendors claims and SLAs.

Security – Organizations need to closely monitor their third party cloud providers with whom they have entrusted the storage and processing of highly sensitive data and applications. The cloud vendor’s security policies and procedures should be understood and the appropriate test processes should be implemented within the organization to ensure these policies are not violated.

The changes in network analysis in a cloud environment are like rearranging furniture. You still have the plumbing and the pipes, so whether the server is located in someone’s office or around the world, the network still needs to be monitored and analyzed. Transitioning to the cloud for any business is evolutionary, but sufficient network analysis will further support any company’s success in implementing this technology.

For a more in-depth discussion of how cloud computing impacts network analysis, check out WilldPackets’ free one hour on-demand webcast titled “Cloud Computing - the Demise of Network Analysis?”

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