Enterprise network environments are growing more complex and dynamic at an unprecedented rate. Traditionally, IT environments have been relatively static and workloads have been generally predictable. But virtualization, increasingly distributed infrastructures, mobile workforces, the proliferation of mobile devices and other advances are causing frequent application changes that interfere with older application performance monitoring techniques.
Fortunately, a network-based approach to application performance management (APM) can provide you with the visibility you need to prevent or quickly
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How is network-based application performance monitoring different from other performance management solutions?
Traditional application performance monitoring approaches use older technologies, some of which are decades old. These legacy solutions consume system resources, typically have expensive per-server licensing fees, and are difficult to deploy and maintain, requiring testing and certification every time there is a change to the application.
Network-based application performance doesn't interfere with the application being monitored. Instead, it examines a copy of the network traffic passing through the data center and reconstructs and analyzes all transactions in real time, extracting valuable health and performance metrics. IT operations teams use these metrics to troubleshoot problems and receive automatic early-warning alerts for anomalous behavior.
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Why are application performance management solutions so important to network health?
When customers can't complete transactions or abandon the process in frustration, the result is lost revenues. IT operations teams are often held accountable for application performance and are responsible for determining the root cause of performance degradations. However, gaining this application visibility is more difficult than ever as IT environments become more complex and dynamic.
Since the various application components communicate with one another over the network, a network-based approach to application performance management can provide IT departments with the visibility they need to prevent or quickly remediate performance problems before they affect the business.
Continue reading Jesse Rothstein's response on why application performance management is so important to network health.
What challenges do network administrators face with application performance monitoring?
One of the greatest challenges network administrators face is maintaining network application visibility into network application performance. Visibility gets obscured as networks become more distributed and complex.
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 more than 100 terabytes (TB) of storage, but will reach their maximum capacity in less than a day if capturing the traffic from a single 10 Gbps link.
Why should application performance management solutions include packet capture abilities?
Packet capture provides a definitive record of application and user activity. As network engineers are fond of saying, "Packets don't lie."
The challenge is that traditional packet capture requires network teams to guess which packets to capture and when to do so. The alternative is to perform continuous packet capture, which is increasingly expensive and cumbersome as the amount of network traffic grows. When networks ran at 10 Mbps, traditional packet capture worked fairly well. Today, a fully saturated 10 Gbps network link can fill 100 TB worth of packet data in 24 hours. This approach may still be required for forensics and compliance purposes, but it is not suitable for real-time troubleshooting.
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More on network application performance monitoring
How vendors approach application performance monitoring tools
How to monitor network application performance in storage environments
How to achieve end-to-end network application performance monitoring
What are the benefits of application performance management tools that are not agent-based?
One example would be the ExtraHop tool, which doesn't require any agents or other instrumentation on the systems being monitored. As a result, ExtraHop imposes no overhead on systems and never disrupts the applications it is monitoring.
ExtraHop's tool is automated, which also simplifies deployment. Other APM products, especially agent-based APM tools, require extensive configuration, testing and certification. The ExtraHop system automatically discovers and classifies devices connected to the network, with no manual configuration required. This plug-and-play capability enables IT organizations to generate up-to-date application activity maps and see real-time transactions occurring in the data center.
Learn more about the benefits of application performance management tools.
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This was first published in April 2013