My name is Nick Gagliardi and I’m hooked on Network and Application Visibility.
I currently look after the Systems Engineering team at Exinda. I’m fortunate enough to have been part of the team here since 2010. I joined Exinda after spending 12 years at Packeteer, staying an additional 2 years after the acquisition by Blue Coat. Over the years I have watched the market and technology evolve from the traditional bandwidth management space, to pure Wan Optimization (WAN OP), to solutions that combine the best of visibility, control and traditional WAN OP techniques. With the fundamental shift in how users, locations and devices access information, one thing that hasn’t changed is their expectations around application performance. Exinda recognized this shift and has focused on delivering Quality of Experience for the applications they rely on most to run their businesses. One thing that has come apparent is the need for deeper performance indicators for different aspects of applications and infrastructure. We call this multi-dimensional visibility. Multi-dimensional visibility combines data from application API’s, the network layer, active measurement, and the user to present the required level of descriptive analytics to provide the needed foundation to ensure a good Quality of Experience.
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As Layer 7 classification becomes more pervasive in the market, we see great opportunities to continue helping customers understand the importance of using application level classification as a foundation to ensure the performance of critical on premise, or cloud hosted applications and services. We’re at a point in time, given the available technologies, where it’s reasonable to expect a solution for traffic management that encompasses more than just basic traffic provisioning and prioritization. The need and expectation today is that these same tool sets allow us to leverage their layer 7 foundation for application and network based SLA monitoring and mediation for the business critical applications and services that folks rely on to keep their businesses competitive.
One aspect of my work that I find genuinely intriguing and insightful has been understanding the various methods and tools that enterprises, service providers and educational spaces have used through the years to instrument the performance of their key services and applications. During my tenure at Packeteer, I helped develop and deliver an application performance baselining workflow based on Layer 7 visibility and very granular reporting metrics to understand and report on the quality of experience within each key business application. The approach I was able to take here at Exinda with a deeper set of tools including URL reporting, AD user integrstion, and automatic performance baselining has helped Exinda propel these offerings into the world of all things cloud. We now see folks expecting tools that deliver Layer 7 visibility and granular QoS as part of an overlay, which can also provide detailed quality reporting and recommendations around key business applications. As we shift from a pure on premise Data Center model, to a cloud-based strategy, we’ve seen businesses start moving services like CRM (like Salesforce) and email who are now moving voice, video, productivity and collaboration tools to the cloud. Now that in essence, we’ve moved our Data Centers to an Internet connection, the tool set needed to manage and mediate SLAs and Quality of Experience must also shift to provide a deeper understanding of both applications, and our extended network connections across the Internet. The solution should blend traditional network level diagnostics and performance metrics with more specialized application based performance indicators to adequately explain and address Quality of Experience management.
When we talk about multi-dimensional visibility, we’re talking about bringing key metrics at both the application and network level into one correlated set of indicators. This serves as the combination of analytics that will provide the most depth for performance measurement, management, and mediation.
From our view, there are several components required that serve as the foundation for multi-dimensional visibility. Let’s use Skype for Business as an example –
Organizations are embracing real-time collaborative toolsets to provide voice and video conferencing, instant messaging, and application sharing capabilities. These applications typically demand some very special handling by the network to provide a high quality of experience for the end users. Many IT leaders are finding that providing a high quality of experience for their users has been very problematic. Without a unified view of network and application health, and a combination of descriptive analytics and prescriptive recommendations, IT cannot deliver the Skype for Business Quality of Experience users demand.
Real Time Monitoring
In order to ensure peak performance for your key applications, you need to be able to identify and monitor all components of the application, for example – voice, video and application sharing sessions – to understand if they are performing the way your employees expect. Continuing this example, your monitoring solution should be able to analyze MOS, jitter, packet loss, delay and other key health indicators to determine whether a session is below acceptable standards. With proactive real time application monitoring and automated alerting, if a session quality issue is detected, you can pinpoint, respond and fix issues quickly – often before your end users even notice.
Unified View of the Network and the Application
When performance issues pop up, many IT managers struggle to identify if the network or application is to blame. To take the guess work out of troubleshooting, and improve Time to Resolve, IT must correlate network and application data, to understand exactly what is causing the session quality issues.
Multi-Dimensional Policy Control
After Skype for Business traffic flows have been properly identified, it’s crucial to be able to set policies to prioritize these dynamic flows with appropriate bandwidth levels to ensure they always perform as needed at the user, device and call level. This ensures that traffic spikes and network congestion won’t adversely affect call quality, and will guarantee that employees have great call experiences every time.
The traditional reactive IT approach to solving problems just doesn’t cut it when it comes to real-time, latency sensitive applications like Skype for Business. IT teams need automated alerts that will notify them of potential problems before they occur and prescribe recommendations to fix them. Knowing in advance when session quality is starting to degrade, arms your IT team with the insight needed to take action before issues become critical and negatively impact your business.
Do you want to reap the rewards of network and application visibility? Sure thing! Contact an Exinda Solution Expert for a live demo – OR – if you’re struggling with Skype for Business Quality of Experience, take a look at our new QX Boost for Skype for Business.