With all the airtime network visibility is getting these days, one would think it is easy to procure, deploy and enjoy. It seems that if your car goes out of control on your way home from work tonight your chances of hitting some salesmen promising to cure all that ails you with the latest in visibility are probable, if not a lock. So, perhaps the procurement problem has in fact been solved. The attendant traffic emergencies and collateral damage aside.

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But what about actually implementing these solutions in the places you need it most? A real production network near you.

A bit trickier, eh? If only it could be packaged, purchased, deployed and managed differently: Visibility as a Service.

Largely, the current muddled state stems from those salesmen baring hardware. Lots of it, all of it “next generation” and “highly scalable” we all know. Which these days means it is based on commercial-off-the-shelf components cobbled together in a land far away. Except for those remaining vendors that did not get the memo, whose wares are still tied to custom silicon, all of which will be hopelessly out of date before dinner time. With that hardware, comes the cost and weight associated with more boxes to deploy. Additional things that can break. A lifetime of roadmap navigation and forklift upgrades to the “latest.”

Sure, architectures that implement aggregation and packet brokering provide some relief. Large networks with convenient collapse points and a plethora of tools can certainly take advantage of this approach. Even then, these solutions do little to gain insight and leverage network expertise in the places that need it most—where most problems occur. The nooks, crannies and remote offices of the real world. Increasingly, these places include parts of the public cloud and other things outside a mere mortal’s control.

For visibility to be truly useful and pervasive, it must be free from hardware dependencies and packaged properly: Visibility as a Service. Only then can it be deployed economically in all the places that one requires it. The way that it was intended to be. Datacenter or branch office, private network or public cloud, finally a model that serves all possible scenarios and lives up to the promise.

Likewise, the management paradigm for this emerging architecture must also evolve. Premise-based element managers can no longer carry the day since they are far too limited for the task at hand. Bound by the limitations previously discussed. The promise of a mythical “super-manager” capable of pulling it all together has been oft-discussed, but never really delivered.

A comprehensive cloud-based application that collects and correlates visibility data across an entire infrastructure provides just the bird’s eye view virtual collection points in this new infrastructure demand. Finally, an idea whose time has come: Visibility as a Service.

One with nearly limitless capacity in horsepower and storage. Such a model combined with a virtual deployment for visibility points, enables a paradigm for the future. One that removes the constraints of the old deployment model and allows visibility to be consumed as a service. Moving forward with such a model untethers the technical solution from its earthly bounds and aligns the finances with the consumption of the derived value.

Which sounds like a good bargain to us.

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