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Fast Packet blogger Josh Stephens talks integrated network management

Network management tools are not an island. Now they must be integrated into other management systems that span across virtualized environments, the SAN, applications systems and more.

In this video, Solarwinds head geek Josh Stephens, a Fast Packet blogger, explains how network management systems can stretch across IT systems, offering a single-pane-of-glass view.

Josh also addresses the need for application-aware network management that gives a deeper view into Layer 7 of the network.


Read the full transcript from this video below:

Fast packet blogger Josh Stephens talks integrated network management

Rivka Little: We are here with Josh Stephens, Head Geek at SolarWinds and
Fast Packet Blogger. Hello, Josh.

Josh Stephens: Hello.

Rivka Little: We are in Las Vegas, at Cisco Live.
Talk to me a little bit about the role of network
management at Cisco Live.

Josh Stephens: The key trend that we are seeing this year at Cisco
Live is that people are needing newer management
systems that are completely integrated with all of the
other types of IT infrastructure management they do.
They are coming over to the booth a lot and asking me
about how do they integrate their storage area network management,
with their log and event management solutions, with their
application systems management, virtual infrastructure
management, and network management; how do they
fit all that together in one single pane of glass?
In today's data center, the lines between these
technologies and the lines between the teams that
manage them, have become really blurred. In many cases,
we have combined those resources under one single
infrastructure team. That, to me, is the predominant trend
that we are seeing around network management at Cisco Live.

Rivka Little: If you already have network management
tools in place, but possibly you have a patchwork of
different tools for these various resources,
is there a strategy to bringing them all together?

Josh Stephens: There is. You can choose a vendor like SolarWinds
that offers solutions in all of those areas, it makes
integration easier. Even if you do not do that, most of
the leading products out there, including SolarWinds,
of course, will offer APIs and their own software developer
kits that makes it easy to plug these things together
and integrate. At least at a basic level, your alerting and
your user interface, which are really the two key
areas to keep in mind.

Rivka Little: How much of what you are hearing is
regarding applications- specific, or application-aware management,
as opposed to network- centered typical management?

Josh Stephens: It is pretty even at this show. Remember, Cisco
Live is primarily network engineers, so their stance is
going to be network heavy. Even on the network side,
with the network engineers and the Cisco presentations
they are doing, there is a strong focus on the application
side of things. On being application-aware and the new
Cisco routers doing deep packet inspection right there on
the line cards in real time. People, now, need to understand
at a Layer 7 level, really how much application traffic is
on the network and really, the need to understand how
each of the applications is performing differently and
what they might need to do about it, so application-aware
is really important.

Rivka Little: How different are management issues
considering the level of virtualization that we are
dealing with, both at the server and the network?

Josh Stephens: They are very different. The same philosophies apply,
in terms of what you should be doing for best practices
for management, but the technologies have changed
significantly. In the past, the main constraint was data
center floor space; how much toolings capability did
we have, how much actual square footage did we have.
Now the number of physical servers is not necessarily
growing, but the number of servers, including virtual
servers, has gone up significantly.

The promise of virtualization was to have a smaller
number of servers, and while that may be true on the
physical side, what we are actually seeing is an
exponential increase in the number of servers
in the environment. What that really results in is a more
a dense computing environment in our data centers than
we have ever seen before. That causes problems on the
network with the application servers, the virtual layer,
and with storage area networks. That level of density is
something we are not used to, and it creates some very
unique management challenges.

Rivka Little: If there were one message that you could
give to Cisco Live users, or rather attendees, regarding
network management this week, what would it be?

Josh Stephens: The one message I would tell them regarding network
management is to sit down together as a team,
and figure out the goals that they have around
improving their organization's IT infrastructure.
Build your goals first, sit down, and build the
plans that you actually want to accomplish.
Once you have done that, then find a solution
that meets your needs. Do not just go out and
downloading solutions and trying them willy-nilly.
Build some goals first, always do a baseline
before you get started, and you will be more successful.

Rivka Little: Great. Thank you so much.


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