By Thomas Pore, Director of Product Marketing, LiveAction
Network visibility is critical to the success of NetOps and SecOps teams. They’re the ones below deck inspecting packets, troubleshooting application problems, fighting back congestion, and identifying threats to the network.
To run an optimised network requires in-depth visibility of multiple considerations – devices, traffic flows, class of service policies, and anomalous activity detection. However, internal and external challenges can compromise this needed access.
The changing nature of enterprise IT
One of the biggest challenges that NetOps teams face surrounds the remote worker transformation that has spiked in recent years.
This digital-first transformation requires that the network now be formed of cloud instances, APIs, IoT deployments, and other components that reach outside the traditional network to accommodate a more distributed workforce. In fact, it has been estimated that APIs account for 84% of network traffic.
With increasingly complex network configurations, higher data output, growing application usage, and climbing network device volume, true network visibility requires addressing new situations. The growing amount of devices and apps on a network bring further complications, changing traffic patterns and complicating visibility. A report on this topic revealed that 81% of network operations professionals deal with network blind spots.
The changing nature of work
We’ve witnessed a mass migration of entire workforces from stable office infrastructures to dispersed locations: homes, cafes, co-working spaces, and anywhere else there’s Wi-Fi. Seeing into those remote Wi-Fi/LAN connections and the public cloud can be a real challenge for some traditional monitoring tools. For example, SNMP polling, ping, and NetFlow can be used in IaaS clouds but won’t work in PaaS or SaaS deployments.
Cyber threats, noise and false positives
Network Visibility is the greatest advantage a SecOps team can use in proactive cyber threat identification. But 91.5% of malware reported in Q2 2021 was sent through encrypted traffic. Legacy tools like DPI and IPS can’t see into encrypted traffic, and decryption methods like SSL verification are often resource-intensive, time-consuming and can pose compliance risks. The solution is in a modern threat detection tool that uses deep packet dynamics (DPD) to scan encrypted traffic for risks without the need for decryption.
Another obstacle to achieving network visibility is working within systems that do not offer targeted or audience-based alerting. Systems that use SIEM alerts can experience a regressive effect on network visibility, losing sight of critical issues through alert fatigue caused by waves of benign alerts.
A 2019 report from FireEye found that 37% of large enterprises receive an average of 10,000 alerts each month, of which over half were redundant alerts or false positives.
Similarly, the very tools which are supposed to illuminate the network often obscure it when combined. The average NetOps team uses between four and 10 tools to monitor their network. But according to one estimate, almost 25 percent of large enterprises rely on anywhere between eight and 25 network performance monitoring tools.
These different technologies, programming languages, and user interfaces require a large time commitment in training from NetOps and SecOps teams. Mixing and matching metrics from different reporting tools can create discrepancies and gaps in reporting knowledge.
Once organisations pass a functional tool threshold, budget is wasted, efficiency declines, and ultimately visibility is hampered.
Bringing concision to network visibility
Security and network professionals need tools that empower them to function at their highest ability. A LiveAction survey found that 42% of network professionals spend excessive hours troubleshooting across the network and 38% are so backlogged, they don’t identify network performance issues when they arise. When network performance and security suffers, the entire organisation is impacted.
To harness the visibility needed for successful network operations, organisations must evaluate monitoring performance metrics in several key scenarios, including a multi-vendor network, a multi-cloud network, a hybrid cloud network, data centre visibility, and distributed remote site visibility. Engineers should prioritise their search for a single monitoring solution and dashboard powerful enough to deliver complete network visibility. This convergence into one view simplifies workflows, makes troubleshooting and network visualisation easier and improves the efficiency of NetOp and SecOps teams.
Amid the constant evolution of changing network architectures, ways of working, devices, apps, tools, and threats, NetOps and SecOps teams must adapt and find solutions that allow them to deliver the same optimal network results. The importance of network visibility cannot be understated in the rise of new cyber threats and the elevation of end-user expectations for network services. Simplifying the job of your network and security professionals improves performance levels and security resilience. Consider the importance of complete network visibility today to allow your engineers and network to reach their optimal potentials.