The Evolution of Network Monitoring
The Evolution of Network Monitoring

The Evolution of Network Monitoring

Historically, the concept of network monitoring meant software polling the network devices to confirm if they were up or down. In time, more advanced systems evolved to measure performance metrics and check configuration compliance too.

Enter the concept of Lawful Interception of data. Lawful interception (LI) refers to the facilities in telecommunications and telephone networks that allow law enforcement agencies with court orders or other legal authorization to selectively wiretap individual subscribers. (Source: Wikipedia.)

Wiretapping data is a simple concept; we have all seen it done in the spy movies when someone listens in on another’s conversation. Similarly, network taps can be used on data networks to copy data conversations off the wire.

This concept has allowed many traditional systems to develop collection nodes with features that unpack meaningful statistics from the collected raw data.

It has also created a market for network taps and packet brokers that can divert copy data to required destinations for monitoring.

The term ‘Network Monitoring’ has evolved from managing and monitoring network elements to inspecting how users and applications experience the network.

Also, subscribers (to Telco networks) are no longer content with being told that congestion is the cause of the delays that they are experiencing. They want to know what the cause of the congestion is – and they are looking to network providers for the answers.

Mature networks that have adopted this evolution find themselves in a strong position. After all, knowledge is power – and knowledge stems from information.

Networks and connectivity have become a commodity subscription. Over time, most organisations have seen a rapid decline in bandwidth and network costs. What’s more, there are now many different options to choose from – everything from wired to wireless to cloud.

Make no mistake, though: the demand for insight is even greater, as the complexity of commodity options explodes.

Consider these two statistics:

(Sources: (Infographic) 2017 State of Cloud Infrastructure Operations (Fugue), State of Digital Operations (PagerDuty), Today’s State of Work: At the Breaking Point)

Why would you spend just as much – or more – on tooling than you would on your subscription itself? Because you cannot fix what you cannot see and you cannot change (future) behaviours if you do not understand current behaviours.

Why do network monitoring systems cost so much? Well, they don’t. It largely depends on what you want ‘network monitoring’ to involve. You can still put in a standard up/down/performance/config system at a low cost; however, restrictions apply.

If you plan on creating an end-to-end visibility platform, you need to consider the costs of taps, packet brokers, multiple collectors, integration and the intellectual property required to maintain such a system.

Add to that the comparative costs of networks these days and sure, it seems pricey at first – but remember, knowledge is power and knowledge comes from information that enables change, stability and faster problem resolution.  

Emile Biagio - Sintrex CTO

Last modified on Friday, 25 February 2022 13:26
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