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Network application performance monitoring reveals visibility issues

Jesse Rothstein, Network Management Expert

What challenges do network administrators face with application performance monitoring?

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One of the greatest challenges that network administrators face is maintaining network application visibility into network application performance. This visibility is obscured as networks become more distributed and complex. Many applications use a service-oriented architecture where components of the application are written and managed by other groups within the enterprise, or even by third-party organizations. Intelligent network devices such as full-proxy firewalls, application delivery controllers, and WAN optimizers transform and terminate traffic. Finally, encryption and thin-client technology obscure network application visibility by converting application traffic into a bit-stream of pixels and clicks.

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Additionally, modern networks are moving faster than ever and carrying larger volumes of data. This poses a particular challenge to packet-capture tools that perform deep packet inspection. The most robust of these tools boast over 100TB of storage but will reach their maximum capacity in less than a day if capturing the traffic from a single 10Gbps link. While this approach has long been seen as authoritative by network engineers, diagnosing the root cause of a network application performance problem and finding that root cause in such a torrent of data is akin to searching for a snowflake in an avalanche.

The rate of change and increasing scale of modern networks is unlikely to slow any time soon. IT complexity is in part a result of the demands of the business. Companies need their IT organizations to support new applications, new services, and new regulatory requirements. To maintain network application visibility in this rapidly evolving environment, network teams require modern application performance monitoring solutions that take a different approach to solving these challenging problems.

This was first published in April 2012

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