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Network Monitoring Essentials for Today’s Complex Federal IT Infrastructure

Level 11

It was all about the network

In the past, when we thought about IT, we primarily thought about the network. When we couldn’t get email or access the Internet, we’d blame the network. We would talk about network complexity and look at influencers such as the number of devices, the number of routes data could take, or the available bandwidth.

As a result of this thinking, a myriad of monitoring tools were developed to help the network engineer keep an eye on the availability and performance of their networks and they provided basic network monitoring.

It’s now all about the service

Today, federal agencies cannot function without their IT systems being operational. It’s about providing critical services that will improve productivity, efficiency, and accuracy in decision making and mission execution. IT needs to ensure the performance and delivery of the application or service, and understand the application delivery chain.

Advanced monitoring tools for servers, storage, databases, applications, and virtualization are widely available to help diagnose and troubleshoot the performance of these services, but one fact remains: the delivery of these services relies on the performance and availability of the network. And without these critical IT services, the agency’s mission is at risk.

Essential monitoring for today’s complex IT infrastructure

Users expect to be able to connect anywhere and from anything. Add to that, IT needs to manage legacy physical servers, new virtual servers, and cloud infrastructure as well as cloud-based applications and services, and it is easy to see why basic monitoring simply isn’t enough. This growing complexity requires advanced monitoring capabilities that every IT organization should invest in.

Application-aware network performance monitoring provides visibility into the performance of applications and services as a result of network performance by tapping into the data provided by deep packet inspection and analysis.

With proactive capacity forecasting, alerting, and reporting, IT pros can easily plan for future needs, making sure that forecasting is based on dynamic baselines and actual usage instead of guesses.

Intelligent topology-aware alerts with downstream alert suppression will dramatically reduce the noise and accelerate troubleshooting.

Dynamic real-time maps provide a visual representation of a network with performance metrics and link utilization. And with the prevalence of wireless networks, adding wireless network heat maps is an absolute must to understand wireless coverage and ensure that employees can reach critical information wherever they are.

Current and detailed information about the network’s availability and performance should be a top priority for IT pros across the government. However, federal IT pros and the networks that they manage are responsible for delivering services and data that ensure that critical missions around the world are successful and that services are available to all citizens whenever they need them. This is no small task. Each network monitoring technique I discussed provides a wealth of data that federal IT pros can use to detect, diagnose, and resolve network performance problems and outages before they impact missions and services that are vital to the country.

Find the full article on our partner DLT’s blog, TechnicallySpeaking.

8 Comments

Interesting article, looking at link for further information. 

MVP
MVP

Interesting as well although I am sure they still have the same budgetary challenge as mentioned in todays question of the May Mission.

After being a fed contractor for a couple of years, and bearing witness to gross waste in IT spending, I am now a huge fan of centralizing IT in the federal government and appointing a CIO.

Level 8

I believe companies and organizations would benefit more from the capacity forecasting, alerting, and reporting features of a monitoring product such as SolarWinds. While monitoring is critical from a day-to-day operational standpoint of maintaining and optimizing the network infrastructure and delivering  on SLA's, the ability to forecast, gather and summarize data, analyze and draw conlusions from the data in making growth, budget and expansion decisions is typically not utilized as efficiently as it could be and becomes evident in the long term planning and decision making of the organization's IT service delivery. For example, leveraging a cost analysis running report that is configured to gather and trend data over a 12-month period will go a long way in weighing decisions such as vendor costs etc. 

I'll also add "It's about the people skills, AND it's about the budget." 

Layers 8, 9, and 10 have to be accounted for, and good people skills can make good changes happen smoothly and efficiently.

I really like the idea of an IT Director or CIO or CISO becoming the right hand of the CFO, such that any purchase that relies on, or that impacts, or that is supported by, the IS / IT department cannot receive C-Level approval for funding or a Purchase Req. until and unless the product or service or project or hardware is fully revealed to the IS Team.  No buying anything until all of the various IT departments sign off on it as compatible with the organization's IT infrastructure and skill set and support solutions and goals.

Great people skills in all areas, and proper staffing levels and training and certification, facilitate the smooth adoption of new solutions while keeping incompatible products out.  Knowing how to manage people, and being the calming oil on the waters, enables anyone to improve efficiencies and increase staff support and morale--even while saying "no" to an inappropriate product or project.

After that whole set of hurdles is reduced, monitor it without silos, and put in a measurement and remediation solution that includes polling users for satisfaction and new ideas and requests--you'll be on your way to a sweet environment filled with successes and people with whom you'll enjoy working.

Level 14

Good read.  Thanks

Level 14

I agree with most of this.  Although I have yet to be about to use wireless in federal atmospheres.

Level 20

And don't forget something that will help pass the DSS audits!