AANPM: the new $1bn acronym in network management

RH: Demand for bandwidth to support business applications, mobile working and unified communications is increasing rapidly, and networks are becoming inherently more complex. Trends such as virtualisation and Software-as-a-Service are making performance visibility across the network more difficult.

When application problems occur in a hybrid cloud environment, for example, how does the organisation find out if the problem is in their infrastructure or that of their cloud provider?

If there's a problem, network engineers can use a network management system (NMS) and packet analysis to prove that the problem isn't the network, but they can't troubleshoot application issues because they can't see and analyse live traffic at the transactional level.

We recently carried out a survey of network professionals which found that more than half don't have the tools they need to quickly and accurately identify issues with VoIP, applications and other network performance issues. So there's definitely market demand for this.

The advantage of the Gartner Magic Quadrant is that it enables potential users to compare solutions using vendor neutral information. Anyone who's interested can read a complimentary version of the Gartner, Inc. "2014 Magic Quadrant for Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics," by visiting www.flukenetworks.com/gartner

TRP: What are the components of an NPMD solution?

RH: An NMPD/AANPM solution should provide:

  • Comprehensive real-time and historic data from network and applications, including stream-to-disk packet storage, application response time analytics, IPFIX (NetFlow) and SNMP.
  • Automated discovery and monitoring of all network elements, connectivity and applications through a customisable dashboard and performance map
  • The ability to analyse every device in the path, across the WAN, through the virtual infrastructure and into the application environment.
  • Event reconstruction to solve intermittent and historic problems, including the ability to reconstruct web content, database queries and N-Tier application transactions, use flow forensics for back-in-time identification of traffic on key links, and even play back VoIP calls and video streams
  • Instant real-time bandwidth usage reports on top applications, conversations and hosts, helping them to see where and how the network is busy and where more bandwidth is needed, and providing QoS/CoS reporting.

TRP: How do you see NPMD solutions developing in the future?

RH: I believe the increasing use of mobile devices will bring wired and wireless networks together, and in turn this will require solutions that can manage end-user performance expectations across both mediums.

With unified communications solutions introducing video calling into business communication tools, demand for bandwidth is increasing and this will require management solutions that can maintain performance of other business critical applications running across the same data networks.

We will also see low-cost AANPM solutions being delivered using both cloud and hybrid cloud models to increase their utility and reduce cost-of-acquisition. At Fluke Networks, we are already well advanced with our plans to introduce network performance management solutions via a cloud consumption model.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.