This article depicts why and how enterprise network teams have seen their working environment totally transformed and become so complex in the past years. It then introduces 5 Network Engineer's best practices that will, I hope, soothe your frustration of losing visibility, and show you how to regain full control of your end-user experience through your corporate network.
The Digital Transformation
Running an enterprise network has become more complex than ever, since we moved into the ages of Digital Transformation and Globalization.
The Globalization Age has made competition coming from here, there, and everywhere. The days when only multinationals ruled their industry for decades are over: 40% of today’s Fortune 500 will be gone within 10 years. Only the most innovative and agile companies will stand a chance of keeping up.
The Digital Age has also transformed the way we live and work. Technology has made information available at the speed of the Internet. Distance has lost its power. Wireless Mobility, Unified Communications, Virtualization, Cloud and SaaS have bridged all communications gaps.
Implementing these technologies helps businesses to remain innovative, adaptable, agile, thus competitive. And guess what connects them all: your network!
Now your users – employees, partners, customers – all expect to connect to work on any device, with anyone, at any time, from anywhere.
A blessing and a curse for the network teams
This dynamic is a blessing and a curse for the network teams within enterprises. With this newfound flexibility comes often-overlooked challenges and hurdles for IT teams.
It’s become so easy for lines of business to sign up for SaaS, that many are just doing it without involving the IT department, never even mind the network team. The sales team uses Salesforce, for example. HR subscribes to Workable and SuccessFactors, and the R&D group wants Amazon Web Services from time to time to get extra computing power to benchmark new products.
Users connect to business-critical apps from home or an airport terminal while using their own devices over third-party infrastructures which you neither own nor manage.
The same goes for real time applications such as Skype for Business. When poor quality keeps an important sales call or critical decisions from being made, it’s often impossible to determine how the Voice and Video traffic was really taken care of by your service providers: you simply have no visibility of what’s going on beyond your own infrastructure.
No wonder you, the network team, and the CIO feel anxious: critical IT components go beyond control while you’re still responsible for ensuring the end-user experience regardless of how, when, where and what applications are being used.
Lose the frustration, regain visibility and control
Now it’s time to soothe all anxieties and lose the frustration. Monitoring your network performance using active tests is your ticket to a much more comfortable situation.
Using software or hardware test agents from within your corporate network or your employee devices, you can centrally orchestrate active tests generating synthetic user application traffic and retrieve actionable key performance metrics between any corporate network location.
Test agents can also query real business applications and services hosted in the cloud, delivered as a SaaS, or in your own datacenter.
Introducing the 5 Best Practices
Following are 5 simple and pragmatic best practice examples, used in the real world by enterprise network teams who regained full visibility and control of their user experience:
- Monitor your WAN Service Provider
- Validate VoIP/Video Monitoring
- Service Assurance
- WLAN Connectivity and Performance
- Network Audit and Troubleshooting
Using an active monitoring solution, you can regain total visibility and control of your end-user experience regardless of how, when, where and what applications are being used.
In the next episode, we’ll cover the first best practice and how you can easily regain visibility and control of your WAN performance. You can also watch the following short and illustrative "how-to" video to provision QualIT and try it on your own network.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your comments, feedback or your own hints and best practices as a network professional, in order to regain visibility and control back. Do let me know!