I remember a dark time in my life when I didn't know where I was going. I scrambled to find direction but I couldn't understand the way forward. It was like I was lost. Then, that magic moment came. I found the path to my destination. All thanks to GPS.

It's hard to imagine the time before we had satellite navigation systems and very accurate maps that could pinpoint our location. We've come to rely on GPS and the apps that use it quite a bit to find out where we need to go. Gone are the huge road atlases. Replacing them are smart phone and GPS receivers that are worlds better than the paper of yesteryear.

But even GPS has limitations. It can tell you where you are and where you need to be. It can even tell you the best way to get there based on algorithms that find the fastest route. But what if that fastest route isn't so fast any more? Things like road construction and traffic conditions can make the eight-lane super highway slower than a one-lane country road. GPS is infinitely more useful when it is updated with fresh information about the best route to a destination for a given point in time.

Let's use GPS as a metaphor for your network. You likely have very accurate maps of traffic flows inside your network. You can tell which path traffic is going to take at a given time. You can even plan for failure of a primary link. But how do you know that something like this occurred? Can you tell at a moment's notice that something isn't right and you need to take action? Can you figure it out before your users come calling to find out why everything is running slow?

How about the traffic conditions outside your local or data center network? What happens when the links to your branch offices are running suboptimally? Would you know what to say to your provider to get that link running again? Could you draw a bullseye on a map to say this particular node is the problem? That's the kind of information that service providers will bend over backwards to get from you to help meet their SLAs.

This is the kind of solution that we need. We need visibility into the network and how it's behaving instantly. We need to know where the issues are before they become real problems. We need to know how to keep things running smoothly for everyone so every trip down the network is as pleasant as an afternoon trip down the highway.

If you read through this entire post nodding your head and wanting a solution just like this, stayed tuned. My GPS tells me your destination is right around the corner.