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Consolidation Requires an Entirely New Level of Network Monitoring

Level 12

By Joe Kim, SolarWinds Chief Technology Officer

Federal IT professionals must consider the sheer volume and variety of devices connected to their networks, from fitness wearables to laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The Internet of Things (IoT) and the cloud also significantly impact bandwidth and present security concerns, spurred by incidents such as the Office of Personnel Management breach of 2014.

Despite this chaotic and ever-changing IT environment, for the Defense Department, network and data center consolidation is well underway, layering additional concerns on top of an already complex backdrop. Since 2011, the DoD has closed more than 500 data centers. That’s well below the goal the agency initially set forth, and it issued a directive last year to step up the pace; and subsequently, the Data Center Optimization Initiative was introduced to further speed efforts.

To be successful, federal IT professionals need a system that accounts for all of the data that soon will stream through their networks. They also need to get a handle on all the devices employees use and will use to access and share that data, all while ensuring network security.

Meeting the Challenges of Tomorrow Today

Network monitoring has become absolutely essential, but some solutions are simply not capable of dealing with the reality of today’s networks.

Increasingly, federal IT managers house some applications on-premises while others use hosted solutions, creating a hybrid IT environment that can be difficult to manage. Administrators will continue to go this route as they attempt to fulfill the DoD's ultimate goal: greater efficiency. Hybrid IT creates monitoring challenges, as it makes it difficult for administrators to “see” everything that is going on with the applications.

Going Beyond the Basics

This complexity will require network administrators to go beyond initial monitoring strategies and begin implementing processes that provide visibility into the entire network infrastructure, whether it’s on-premises or hosted. Hop-by-hop analysis lets administrators effectively map critical pathways and gain invaluable insight into the devices and applications using the network. It provides a complete view of all network activity, which will become increasingly important as consolidation accelerates.

At the very least, every IT organization should employ monitoring best practices to proactively plan for consolidation and ensuing growth, including:

  1. Adding dedicated monitoring experts who can provide holistic views of agencies’ current infrastructure and calculate future needs.
  2. Helping to ensure that teams understand the nuances of monitoring hardware, networks, applications, virtualization, and configurations and that they have access to a comprehensive suite of monitoring tools.
  3. Equipping teams with tools that address scalability needs. This will be exceptionally important as consolidation begins to truly take flight and data needs rapidly expand.

Looking Reality in the Eye

DoD network consolidation is a slow, yet major undertaking, and a necessity to help ensure efficiency. It comes with extreme challenges, particularly a much greater degree of network complexity. Effectively wrangling this complexity requires network administrators to go beyond simple monitoring and embrace a more comprehensive monitoring strategy that will better prepare them for their future.

Find the full article on Signal.

11 Comments
tallyrich
Level 15

Thought provoking article. With more data comes more management.

ecklerwr1
Level 19

Netpath and AppStack will definitely help with monitoring hybrid IT I think... especially Netpath.  Also some of the new cloud supported monitoring as well.  I'm still very concerned about the OPM breach... just who has all those sf86's?

vinay.by
Level 16

Nice article

byrona
Level 21

Thanks for sharing!  Closing 500 data centers since 2011 seems like a lot to me so I was surprised to see that is lower than what was expected.

I am really glad to see that it's becoming more common for organizations to realize that dedicated monitoring experts are required for this versus the historical model of just dumping that responsibility in the lap of some other network/system engineer.

shuckyshark
Level 13

uggg...more data is all I need...most supervisors here don't know what to do with the data they have.

mcam
Level 14

I'm also interested in the other direction with private clouds, using docker or other containerization etc,

But public or private, we would still have servers instances that appear and disappear based on usage rules etc.

Also software defined networking with micro segmentation.

Our world is changing fast......

mtgilmore1
Level 13

More more more --- when will it stop.............

rharland2012
Level 15

Never.

rschroeder
Level 21

Over 500 data centers already closed?  How many ARE there in total?  Over 3000, according to https://www.deltek.com/en/learn/blogs/b2g-essentials/2017/04/how-many-data-centers-does-the-departme... .

How many new ones have opened since 2011?

On the bright side, fewer means more efficiency, right?  More VM, more chassis-based servers, less power, less cooling needs, easier backups, fewer staff.

On the other side, what are the ramifications?  More eggs in fewer baskets, increased vulnerabilities (only a "maybe", since securing a great many data centers means MANY cracks through which important things may fall), fewer places for hostile entities to target.

tinmann0715
Level 16

Many IT shops are learning to swim in the fast-paced currents of IoT. IoT and traditional network IT co-mingling is in its infancy. Management and control of all the nodes is nothing short of an administrative nightmare right now. How to protect them? How to manage their lifecycle? Is IoT a service?

  So many questions surround simple little devices which have quickly their way into critical business processes

d09h
Level 16

I would really hope federal networks aren't allowing fitness wearables to connect.  The whole bring your own device thing has some merit, but I can easily draw the line on that one. 

About the Author
Joseph is a software executive with a track record of successfully running strategic and execution-focused organizations with multi-million dollar budgets and globally distributed teams. He has demonstrated the ability to bring together disparate organizations through his leadership, vision and technical expertise to deliver on common business objectives. As an expert in process and technology standards and various industry verticals, Joseph brings a unique 360-degree perspective to help the business create successful strategies and connect the “Big Picture” to execution. Currently, Joseph services as the EVP, Engineering and Global CTO for SolarWinds and is responsible for the technology strategy, direction and execution for SolarWinds products and systems. Working directly for the CEO and partnering across the executive staff in product strategy, marketing and sales, he and his team is tasked to provide overall technology strategy, product architecture, platform advancement and engineering execution for Core IT, Cloud and MSP business units. Joseph is also responsible for leading the internal business application and information technology activities to ensure that all SolarWinds functions, such as HR, Marketing, Finance, Sales, Product, Support, Renewals, etc. are aligned from a systems perspective; and that we use the company's products to continuously improve their functionality and performance, which ensures success and expansion for both SolarWinds and customers.