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What is network verification and do enterprises need it?

Network verification can help organizations gain critical network performance insight and alleviate network complexity. But aspects of the concept are new and not yet mainstream.

One of the biggest challenges network administrators face is understanding how a network will act in any given situation.

Most administrators use historical monitoring and performance data, architecture know-how and good old-fashioned intuition to reach a conclusion. The accuracy of these results varies greatly, which is especially true as networks grow increasingly complex. Ultimately, loss of real insights into how the network acts can lead to unforeseen performance issues that can be difficult to remedy.

This is where network verification comes into play.

What is network verification?

The purpose of a network is to transport data from the source to one or more destinations. Multiple underlying technologies are responsible for achieving this goal, including Layer 2 frame switching, Layer 3 routing and a host of resiliency protocols that reroute traffic around a downed or degraded path.

IT teams use network verification tools to ensure hardware, software and network configurations will operate error-free and without any unforeseen issues. Other common network verification tests include node and endpoint isolation, routing black holes, load-balanced paths, and device and path fault tolerance.

Which organizations need network verification tools?

The need for network verification varies from one organization to the next. For many organizations, network service disruptions -- even those that last only a few minutes a year -- can result in significant revenue losses. For those organizations, network verification tools can root out problems before they occur, which is highly appealing.

That said, it's important to note the field of network verification is relatively new. Thus, the tools and skills required to perform proper verification tests are somewhat rare. For most businesses, verification testing should be on their radar -- but it won't be high on the to-do list for the next few years.

This was last published in March 2020

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