Here’s a situation that you may find recognizable. There is a critical service delivery issue and IT leadership pulls together a tiger team of 8-10 people into a war room session — several network engineers, a few developers, some security analysts, and the CTO are included. Within the first 20 minutes, the network engineering team is certain that the network is not at fault, but DevOps wants them to run tests that ensure this is the case. NetOps runs the regressions and provides the results, but the tests were run with a previous version of a relevant application, so DevOps requests an updated set of tests. The volley continues for several days, culminating in DevOps agreement to look more deeply at the application. Sure enough there was an application issue that only took a few minutes to fix. Nearly a week’s worth of finger-pointing because there was a lack of common data and shared visibility and not enough trust in the evidence.

If this cross-department fire-fighting sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Earlier this year, the 2021 State of the Network Report revealed that over 70% of organizations meet in IT war room scenarios at least twice a year, with 42% saying they meet in IT war rooms at least once a month. What’s more, NetOps, SecOps, and DevOps are being involved in nearly equal measure in each meeting. Though war rooms are inevitable if a critical escalation occurs, we should be leveraging technology that helps make them shorter and less frequent.

Given today’s complex IT landscape, where infrastructure and applications are now hosted in the cloud or in hybrid environments, emerging technologies like SD-WAN or SASE are mainstream, and remote work is expanding, troubleshooting application and network performance issues is more time consuming and involves more people than ever. As enterprises think about their cloud migrations strategies and inter-connectivity plans for a distributed workforce, their approach to network observability is key to ensuring that IT teams are prepared to address troubleshooting and monitoring in this new model.

What do we mean by network observability? To begin with, it’s not just about collecting as much data from your environment as possible. While true that the more data you collect – packets, flow, metadata from infrastructure and cloud sources – you can assume you’ll have fewer blind spots. But data without actionable insights is just data or worse, it’s noise that offers false/positive alarms or even confidence where there shouldn’t be. Data becomes information when IT teams can leverage it with context.

A critical component of visibility is the way that data from the network is presented to your teams. You don’t necessarily need more KPI’s – you need automated workflows that analyze disparate KPI’s, identify and correlate those that need to be seen, and surface them in an intuitive way for your various users – inclusive of NetOps to SecOps and DevOps, and  Tier 1 help desk to IT manager or executive. Sharing data sources with the right, role-based workflows foster cross-department collaboration that comes in handy during war room scenarios.

With Observer, high-level dashboards leverage granular network data to provide a broader view about your applications to IT teams responsible for assuring smooth service delivery. These dashboards give you at-a-glance visibility into your network’s underlying health with special widgets for web collaboration services, remote user monitoring and much more.

Here’s an example of what executive visibility can look like in a healthcare environment. A single, color-coded End-User Experience (EUE) score is available for each application used by a university hospital. No matter how new or seasoned the user is when it comes to troubleshooting applications, it’s easy to see that the problem resides in the top left application – TouchWorks in this case.

With executive level dashboards like the one above for a hospital, VIAVI Observer makes it easy to determine which sites need help in one single view.

Simply hovering over the EUE score helps isolate the problem domain, whether network, client, server, or application. The answer is at the ready in seconds – in this case it’s a server issue. You can also drill down into more granular network data for forensic analysis with just a few clicks, streamlining root cause analysis.

If you’re in an IT war room scenario, this evidence is just what you need to need to exonerate the network or corroborate that it is the problem. Observer provides these executive application performance dashboards out-of-the-box for not just healthcare but many other verticals, including finance, banking, insurance, and manufacturing, giving you actionable insights into the most critical applications and the end-user experience. Complimentary custom dashboard assistance can help you configure the dashboards in ways that drive more value for your teams and leverage the flexibility of Observer.

Make peace, not war. Given the already significant shortage of IT talent, there is no need to pull NetOps, SecOps, and DevOps into war rooms that can delay meeting deadlines of critical projects. By leveraging intuitive, accessible dashboards that point to the evidence, IT executives can ensure that that their scarce resources can focus on proactive and longer-term initiatives.

To learn more about how Observer can leverage executive visibility dashboards to put an end to the troubleshooting blame game, request a demo.

 

About The Author

Sid Nanda is a Sr Solutions Marketing Manager at VIAVI Solutions, where he develops and drives the GTM strategy for cross-portfolio solutions in Enterprise & Cloud. He brings a wealth of experience delivering to market complex products in the cybersecurity space. Prior to his time at VIAVI, Sid was a PM at a cyber consultancy, where he worked on a variety of digital forensics, incident response, IP litigation, and proactive risk advisory engagements.

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