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What you need to know about network analytics software

Reality check: Are network analytics tools overhyped? This guide explores the key features of these tools, how they can help and their effect on networking's future.

Both longtime networking vendors and up-and-coming network analysis companies have hyped network analytics as a powerful tool. Yet, some experts wonder if the technology is worth the hype.

While network analytics software has its advantages -- such as deep network analysis and security insights -- it also bears disadvantages. Network analytics is embedded in WANs and data centers, yet has been marketed as a new, individual product, despite its accessibility in other monitoring software and hardware products.

Take a look at this compilation of advice from industry experts and see what they think of network analytics. 

Overcoming the hype of advanced network analytics software

Network analytics software is not as new or original as some people might think. In a blog, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) analyst Shamus McGillicuddy shared his thoughts on the topic and how analytics is potentially overhyped by marketers. He cited an EMA survey that showed 60% of network professionals use or planned to use analytics features that are already embedded in their network infrastructure.

McGillicuddy said network analytics is part of many existing product portfolios, and every software defined WAN system has embedded analytics in some form. He also predicted these tools would evolve over time and more analysis vendors would emerge.

Read more from this network analytics blog roundup, and check out McGillicuddy's thoughts.

How can network analytics tools improve performance?

Machine learning is helping vendors improve the analysis capabilities of their existing network monitoring and management portfolios. As a result, organizations don't necessarily need to seek out and invest in specialized analytics tools.

However, Global Data networking analyst Amy Larsen DeCarlo explored how network analytics tools could help overall network performance. She said analytics can help process high-traffic volumes, develop solutions to performance issues and predict issues before they occur. While network analytics software continues to improve, some legacy challenges linger, and IT staff should understand all advantages and disadvantages before investing in these tools.

Dive further into DeCarlo's analysis of network analytics tools.

How can network analytics tools benefit IT staff?

Network analytics software can help IT staff discover the root cause of problems even before the issues are fully revealed. Farpoint Group's Craig Mathias explored how the advent of more automated tools and evolving AI can benefit IT staff and, in some cases, bypass human operators completely.

Mathias said these tools are capable of complex analysis, as they look at relationships within monitored and logged networks by immediately connecting the analytics engine to the management console.

Read more of Mathias' thoughts on the benefits of network analytics tools and what he predicts is on the horizon.

Network analytics tools deepen with machine learning and AI

Despite its benefits for IT staff, network analytics can still lack a holistic view of networks. Earlier this year, SearchNetworking examined how network analytics can function on large networks, specifically at the University of Washington. The article also explored the importance of analytics in relation to wireless technology.

The need for network analytics tools has increased because of a greater need to analyze large amounts of data in real time. Vendors, such as Aruba Networks, Mist Systems, ExtraHop Networks and Nyansa Inc., have looked to address this need. The feature story investigated how machine learning and AI could benefit the growth of analytics tools and their capabilities.

Check out the full feature, and discover the differences between network monitoring and network analytics.

What does next-generation network analytics software look like?

Network analytics tools appear to be getting smarter. Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Dan Conde discussed a new generation of these tools that integrate machine learning, AI and cloud-based data for a more automated networking world. With constant network growth and the expanding popularity of mobile devices, an updated generation of network analytics tools is necessary.

These tools provide more insight into network performance, assistance for security and troubleshooting for root-cause analysis. Different organizations require different analysis tools, so Conde discussed different flavors of network analytics software from vendors such as ExtraHop, Nyansa and Savvius Inc.

Explore more of Conde's discussion about network analytics software's next generation.

This was last published in November 2018

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