As networks continue to evolve and see new demands, businesses are turning to network monitoring tools to optimize network performance. Thanks to technological developments in edge computing, security, open source and artificial intelligence, network monitoring tools offer more value than ever, says Mike Huot, senior product strategist at The OpenNMS Group.
Networking at the edge has been growing for some time now, and the pandemic has further fueled this trend due to the need to decentralize. At the same time, the data center, whether on-premises or in the cloud, is shrinking in favor of platform and software as a service. The traditional hub-and-spoke model is being replaced by a more diverse set of connections between the customer directly and corporate offices. For the home user, the split-tunnel setup is more complex, with Trustless Network Access (ZTNA) becoming a core technology replacing traditional client-based VPNs.
What’s on the edge
The proliferation of IoT/XoT devices in industries, such as healthcare, will push the need for monitoring closer to where the device is. Limited device resources require monitoring to be external to the device and the service it reports to. Depending on the situation, this can be done through passive or active means.
In addition, corporate offices will increasingly need the automation and reduced complexity that SD-WAN offers. SD-WAN will simplify the configuration of direct Internet traffic for services such as Office 365, SalesForce and others to provide the best user experience. Traditional wide area connections (with their higher costs) will become a smaller part of enterprise networks thanks to the flexibility of SD-WAN. This flexibility will make monitoring more critical as the validation of SD-WAN solution decisions must be measured, tracked, and verified. Using metrics obtained outside the solution is the best way to ensure that users get the best experience from their system.
Zero Trust for Network Monitoring
Compliance and security have always been critical issues, which will continue to arise as IT is pushed to the edge. Enterprises should deploy solutions independent of the surrounding infrastructure to provide the security needed for network monitoring. Network monitoring solutions must be completely independent of the infrastructure they are monitoring to be as secure as possible. Using a zero trust framework is a way to achieve this. Expect an increase in the adoption of network monitoring solutions based on a zero-trust framework in 2023 and beyond.
It’s also important to note that we have a lot of work to do to define zero trust. Vendors of these solutions will need to publish information about what qualifies them as zero trust. Companies are increasingly demanding of the vendors they choose to work with and will demand information about the architecture behind any zero-trust solution they review. I anticipate more transparency in proactively sharing this information to win new customers and build trust with existing users. We might even see an agreed-upon definition of zero trust come from this effort.
Learn more: Microsegmentation: a step towards a Zero-Trust network
Open source is more important than ever
Open source has become the key to innovation and growth for many business strategies. Building community is now recognized as a way to incubate new ideas and concepts. Open source has long been a cradle for the introduction of new industry standards and more formal standards, such as RFCs. These communities go beyond the production of open source software, thriving in the free exchange of advice, techniques and tools.
Open source will also continue to play a vital role in improving network monitoring solutions. Network monitoring has become a particularly competitive market over the past few years as most businesses today are extremely technology driven and need to optimize their technology investments to reach more customers. Modern enterprises need to know if they are getting the best performance and availability from their implementations. To achieve this, they must follow these solutions closely. That being said, it is extremely difficult for any network monitoring vendor to create a solution that covers all of the products and technologies that need to be monitored. This is where the open source community brings a breadth of knowledge that no company can contain – they go into every corner to find the next problems that monitoring can solve.
In the past – before open source became what it is today –network monitoring vendors used labs with physical service provider equipment to monitor and test their solutions. However, this strategy was very expensive to set up and maintain. It was also limiting in terms of equipment that could be monitored. Today, these solutions can be tested in the open source world, allowing network monitoring vendors to release their software and put it into the hands of community members who own just about every piece of equipment. In short, it’s exceptionally difficult to build a lab that can emulate a production environment, but the open source community provides (and will continue to provide) network monitoring vendors with better feedback on their products from a community that uses it in this ecosystem. .
Learn more: 4 Reasons Enterprise CIOs Embrace Open Source
Where AI comes into play
Companies are constantly looking for new ways to improve the information they can get from their network. AI is very promising in this area. Network monitoring vendors are integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms into their products to provide rich data that establishes the connections between parts to provide a picture of the whole. But one thing on the horizon is a trainable network monitoring solution against something with already predefined algorithms. A formable solution for network monitoring will allow companies to tailor monitoring and reporting to their specific business needs, not the other way around.
The breadth and depth of this topic compels network monitoring vendors to partner with the larger open source community and collaborate to train AI that benefits everyone.
As technology improves, network monitoring will be less reactive and more proactive in surface data before it is requested. The end game is self-healing, where the monitoring system tells the automation to fix the problem before it becomes a problem. This will allow network engineers to focus on design and optimization rather than firefighting.
Regardless of what 2023 holds, one thing will remain the same: businesses will always need a reliable way to monitor their network and make sure everything is in order. Fortunately, advances in security, artificial intelligence, open source, and edge computing will make surveillance tools smarter, more efficient, and safer than ever.
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