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Tag Archives: sdn

Improving Visibility in Virtual Networks

Over the past decade, as networks became increasingly complex and crucial for businesses across all verticals, the IT industry developed new ideas about network design. Virtualization was born out of that process, as businesses—particularly data centers and enterprises maintaining large networks—sought to curb ever-growing hardware-related expenses. Cloud services, built on visualization technology, gradually made their way into the mainstream during that time as well.

Indeed, using virtualization to separate control plane from data plane functions and allowing managers to maintain networks from one or just a few screens can help businesses reduce IT expenses by limiting the space, power and cooling requirements for hardware. But virtualization also limits network visibility, making it nearly impossible to monitor new kinds of traffic, which include:

  • Invisible—remains in the rack and never travels across the physical network, making it difficult to capture
  • Intrahost—involves one physical host and several virtual machines
  • Interhost—where multiple virtual hosts are connected on a virtual fabric, resulting in a collection of virtual systems with only one physical connection to the network

So what can businesses do? Continuing to scale hardware is financially unsustainable, but operating without network visibility is too risky. For businesses stuck between these two undesirable options, WildPackets virtual network analysis solutions can bring back the real-time troubleshooting capability that technicians need to do their jobs effectively. Such bleeding-edge technology continuously monitors critical applications running in virtual environments and notifies IT immediately if a problem arises. The solution also records all network traffic, which can be reviewed at any time.

Virtualization presents new difficulties for network professionals, but these problems do have solutions. If you’re interested in learning more about virtualization and its impact on network monitoring, click here to download our white paper entitled “Managing Networks in the Age of Cloud, SDN, and Big Data: Network Management Megatrends 2014.”

More Data, More Problems?

Big data is perhaps the ultimate double-edged sword for businesses. On one hand, the ever-growing volume of information produced by contemporary technology contains valuable data companies can use to improve operations. For that reason, a wide array of verticals—from healthcare to financial services—are launching big data initiatives. On the other hand, the data needs to be stored somewhere and transmitted on the network. In fact, a recent report from Enterprise Management Associates revealed that “increased traffic load due to big data storage/backup” is the most common change observed to network behavior by respondents.

To meet these traffic and storage demands, many businesses are increasing their bandwidth, moving from 1G to 10/40 or even 100G networks. And although this makes them better-equipped to handle more information, the higher speed involved can make the network engineer’s job more difficult, as troubleshooting grows more complex.

Fortunately, organizations increasing their bandwidth now have access to tools that ensure excellent network performance. These network monitoring solutions help make certain that no packets are lost between the network and storage, and that network engineers have all the data they need for fast, accurate analysis. Data is available in real time for analysis and can also be recorded for post-capture network forensics that help engineers re-create disruptions or attacks and prevent similar incidents in the future.

By now, many executives understand full well the possibilities big data offers. But because networks are now the backbones of so many organizations, decision makers may feel that even valuable, actionable information isn’t worth risking network health. But with the right solution, businesses no longer have to choose between getting on the big data bandwagon and feeling confident about their networks.

Click here to download our white paper, “Managing Networks in the Age of the Cloud, SDN and Big Data: Network Management Megatrends 2014.”

The Benefits and Challenges of Software-Defined Networking

One the biggest challenges contemporary businesses face is creating a flexible network atmosphere that responds to application or traffic needs in real time. In looking for solutions to this problem, organizations are transitioning from traditional, inflexible hardware-based networks to software-defined networks.

Software-defined networking (SDN) allows an entire network to be managed from a central control point. Programmability of the network from a single location enables automation, where the system can self-monitor and scale in real time based on need. The ability to make real-time adjustments is the most valuable aspect of SDN, because it ensures companies never get caught without the network resources they need.

But with the added flexibility SDN provides comes new challenges as well. In the past, when applications or services were deployed, engineers had significant time to test the network’s ability to handle the changes. While SDN provides companies with greater flexibility, real-time configuration changes make it much more difficult for IT managers to stay on top of everything that is happening across dynamic networks.

Best-in-class network monitoring tools, however, help engineers improve network performance, reduce latency and weed out security risks by keeping tabs on the entire network, 24/7/365 even as things rapidly change. These products also make the entire virtual network visible to engineers and alert them to any small disturbances before they become major problems. Particularly in cases where companies are migrating from 1G to 10G speed or higher for SDN deployments, the increase in speed and complexity of applications necessitates the adoption of performance-monitoring solutions.

Like many emerging technologies, SDN offers major benefits for businesses but also comes with potential pitfalls. For companies considering overhauling their network infrastructure, network monitoring solutions are akin to protecting an investment.

And that’s always good business.

Click here to download any of WildPackets free, informative white papers.