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The job of a network engineer or network administrator is to solve problems; everything from backups to cables to firewalls to viruses. All of these tasks are related to moving data moving across the network in an optimal and efficient manner so that users can do the work that drives the business.

Every network engineer’s job is different but one thing is for sure – with the exploding use of IP-based technologies from VoIP to cloud services, coupled with the corresponding growth in network size and complexity – it isn’t getting any easier.

The challenges associated with keeping today’s overburdened networks secure, predictable and healthy are numerous, but these three related concerns would top most network engineers’ lists:

 

  1. Security
  2. Maintenance and monitoring
  3. Performance management

Security

Practically everyone who uses information technology, let alone IT professionals, is aware that information security is a battle without end. Some specific security threats that are on the rise include malware targeting smartphones and tablets, the “consumerization” of enterprise applications on personal devices, and the need for security to evolve in line with private cloud and virtual desktop infrastructure.

According to Bradford Networks, Business Computing World and other sources, the top network concerns for 2011 revolve around trends towards “more users” (employees and unmanaged users like business partners); “more mobile devices” (managed and unmanaged), and “IP everything” – the exponential growth of IP-based, networked applications and devices from VoIP to virtual desktop infrastructure to IP storage.

More systems, more endpoints and more access over the network means not only more security challenges, but also an intensifying need to monitor the increased traffic and ensure acceptable performance.

Maintenance and Monitoring

Monitoring and managing network traffic is a top concern in any IT department. This is especially the case as monitoring efforts are ubiquitously leveraged as a way to help meet network security and performance goals. However, monitoring and troubleshooting efforts are often hampered by a lack of effective tools and integrated reporting and alerting capabilities. Many network practitioners are likewise challenged by the need to capture, store and analyze vast amounts of monitoring data involving increasingly diverse types of IP-based traffic, from video streaming to SaaS applications.

In short, as more and more organizations leverage various monitoring options to support more users and more services more efficiently, many of the challenges that arise result from a need to cope with increasing – and increasingly diverse – network traffic.

Performance Management

Managing network performance may be the network engineer’s ultimate challenge. The ever-growing diversity and volume of IP-based services that today’s organizations increasingly rely on all in turn depend on adequate network performance. When bandwidth, jitter, packet loss or latency drops even slightly below tolerance thresholds, services quickly collapse. The more traffic the network carries – and the greater the number of hops between users and services – the higher the risk of poor network performance leading to application failure.

To ensure that users can do their jobs, network engineers must be able to:

  • Continuously monitor network performance metrics (jitter, packet loss, bandwidth, latency) in real-time across multiple, distributed sites
  • Troubleshoot VoIP, IP storage, virtual desktops and other IP-based applications
  • Understand what application instances are using what percentage of available bandwidth, and what IP addresses are associated with them
  • Assess the network’s readiness for new services before deploying them

AppNeta’s cloud-based PathView Cloud network performance management solutions provides these capabilities by delivering insight in both directions between your datacenter and your remote sites – through third-party and public networks as well as your own. Delivered as a hosted service, PathView Cloud is both cost-effective and simple to deploy and manage.

Find out more about how AppNeta technology can help network engineers address the performance management challenges they face every day, and sign up for a free trial on your network today!

Organizations making the move to cloud services are well aware of the many benefits like lower startup costs, lower total cost of ownership and on-demand scalability. But many companies fail to take a hard enough look at the corresponding challenges associated with application availability and performance.

For many cloud services deployments, network performance will be the key to application performance. Why? Because every business service accessed over cloud infrastructure is by definition a remote, network-dependent service. Every user becomes a remote user and every office, even the corporate headquarters, becomes a remote office.

Even services-based applications will stumble, freeze and eventually disconnect users when network bandwidth, jitter, latency or packet loss metrics drop below acceptable thresholds. Many of the applications being moved to cloud infrastructure were not originally designed for remote access, making them even more susceptible to changes in network performance.

In short: a successful cloud services deployment depends on your ability to guarantee application performance from the user’s perspective. That means you need to manage network performance.

What are the key steps for managing network performance for cloud service deployments?

One: Network assessment

The first step in ensuring a successful cloud services deployment is to perform a comprehensive baseline assessment of network performance. When rolling out cloud services – or other IP-based services like VoIP, video conferencing, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or IP storage – many organizations underestimate the operational and business risk associated with unplanned network impacts.

A network assessment is the only way to accurately know the scope of the project and its costs. It’s also the only way to know if your network is up to the task of carrying the extra traffic

Two: Continuous monitoring

Users need the performance of cloud-based services to be at least as good as what their current infrastructure delivers. To guarantee acceptable performance you need to be aware in real-time of the ever-changing status of the networks connecting remote users to applications. Latency, jitter and other key network performance metrics can fluctuate continuously in response to changes in traffic and other factors

Continuous monitoring capability is also required to give you real-time visibility into service levels. This is the basis for troubleshooting network problems, as well as for ensuring that cloud and other third-party providers are meeting their contractual commitments.

Further, the physical distance that data must take between the cloud and the user has a huge impact on performance, especially for TCP based applications. This parameter will vary among different public cloud providers, making monitoring performance over time an important step in evaluating cloud hosting options.

Three: Proactive troubleshooting

Today’s cloud-based services are business-critical and ensuring their availability is vital. Traditional break-fix approaches to network management are not adequate to meeting many of today’s SLAs.

Network engineers therefore need a way to pinpoint the exact cause and location of performance degradation — even within the virtual network and servers making up the cloud. This makes it possible proactively address network issues before they impact users. Likewise, if cloud services crash and a plethora of service providers start finger-pointing, you need to know, quickly and decisively, who is responsible for what.

Maximizing the business benefits of cloud deployments

How can organizations ensure that the performance of their network enables them to derive maximum benefits from cloud computing? AppNeta’s PathView Cloud technology enables you to guarantee application performance across all cloud, data center, remote office and mobile environments today. In addition to providing unmatched insight into network performance from the perspective of remote users, AppNeta’s cloud-based Pathview Cloud service delivers immediate time-to-value, affordable licensing and on-demand scalability.

Want to learn more? Join AppNeta on Thursday, September 8th, 2pm ET for the Preparing Your Enterprise Network for Cloud Services Deployment Webinar, or start your own free trial today!

Today’s business services are increasingly dependent on predictable network performance and availability. At the same time, changes to network infrastructure  – such as the addition of IP-based services like VoIP, video conferencing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS); the proliferation of Wi-Fi-connected devices; unmanaged elements such as streaming audio– all mean that performance requirements for your customers’ critical applications demand a much higher level of service delivery and quality assurance.

Recurring-RevenueFor MSPs, your ability to provide continuous insight into customers’ dynamic network infrastructure is critical to delivering your existing services and ensuring a quick, effective response to customer performance problems. Some key elements to assuring performance for your customers’ networks and building your business at the same time include:

— Providing monthly reporting and immediate performance alerts when issues arise.

— Differentiating your business by moving from a traditional, break-fix engagement model based on remediating failures to a proactive, strategic service tailored to customer needs.

— Reducing trouble tickets;  eliminating truck rolls and on-site engineers

How can your business transition from break-fix troubleshooting to continuously and proactively managing your customers’ network infrastructure?

PathView Cloud offers remote site network and application performance monitoring that delivers exceptional network insight, alerts, reporting and troubleshooting, from one integrated network performance management solution.

Here are three easy ways MSPs can use PathView Cloud to get started with new remote, continuous network performance monitoring services:

#1: Network health assessments

Proactive network assessments are a great way to highlight network issues, while showing your customers the value of continuous network performance monitoring. PathView Cloud lets you deliver not only comprehensive, point-in-time assessment reports, but also continuous assessments over a business cycle (e.g., seven to fourteen days). This information can lead directly to a managed services discussion.

#2: “Top talker” reporting at remote sites

Who is doing what on your customer’s network? PathView Cloud enables you to give customers periodic (e.g., monthly) net flow reports that deliver valuable insight into who and what is consuming network bandwidth. Like a network assessment, this information can illuminate network issues while also presenting an ideal opportunity to discuss managed service options.

#3: Cloud services readiness assessment

Assessing a customer network’s readiness for cloud services is a simple undertaking with PathView Cloud. AppNeta recommends running such assessments for seven days to capture a full business cycle. A pre-deployment assessment can save your customers significant time and money by providing a holistic view of their network’s ability to handle additional traffic, as well as identifying ongoing and  transient network issues. It also facilitates a discussion of the value of continuous monitoring services post-deployment to validate and ensure compliance with SLAs.

More and more MSPs are using PathView Cloud to realize ongoing revenue streams from unmatched remote site performance visibility and continuous network assessment offerings.  Check out the live PathView Cloud demo, or try PathView Cloud on your network today with a free 14-day trial!


From the largest regional medical centers to small provider offices, today’s healthcare organizations depend on network sensitive applications. Electronic Health Records (EHR), ePrescriptions, web-based clinical records, online medical registries, desktop virtualization, VoIP, IP storage, cloud–based system, Software-as-a-Service — all of these critical applications rely on network performance.

When bandwidth, latency and other key parameters fall below acceptable thresholds, network dependent services abruptly become unusable. This potentially compromises not only business efficiency, but also patient care. Network performance management has thus become one of IT’s most vital functions across the healthcare sector.  As Dr. John Halamka points out in his blog, Life as a Healthcare CIO,“As we all rollout EHRs to small provider offices, often with challenging internet connections, remote monitoring of cloud network performance becomes even more critical.”

Here are five key reasons why every healthcare provider must be able to monitor and manage network performance:

  1. You need to quickly find and fix network performance problems before they impact patient care or confidentiality.
  2. You want to minimize problems associated with unpredictable connectivity to centralized data, which frustrate and compromise the efficiency of overworked clinical and clerical staff whose time is so valuable.
  3. You are charged with ensuring that the migration and consolidation of electronic health records, as well as the rollout of new, network-dependent services like video conferencing, goes smoothly and does not negatively impact existing applications.
  4. You are looking to optimize the performance of an ever-growing number of wireless devices from tablet PCs to smartphones to wearable medical devices like heart monitors.
  5. Any healthcare provider’s ability to successfully leverage cloud computing, IT-as-a-service and similar initiatives depends on its ability to guarantee application service levels from the user’s perspective.

Unfortunately, many network professionals responsible for delivering site-to-site access to clinical data lack visibility into the various WANs, remote LANs and service provider clouds that connects centralized resources to remote offices. How can you achieve the network performance insight you need to ensure service levels across your IP-based application portfolio?

AppNeta’s PathView Cloud suite of network performance management solutions solve this problem by providing remote, end-to-end, bi-directional visibility across all the networks (even those you don’t own) between your datacenters, those of your service providers, and users at clinics and other remote sites. With PathView Cloud you can continuously monitor and troubleshoot network performance “from anywhere to anywhere,” ensure compliance with SLAs, and quickly and accurately assess your network’s readiness for even more IP-based services.

To learn more about how AppNeta technology can give healthcare organizations the insight they need to ensure predictable access to EHR, virtual desktops, IP storage and other business-critical, network-dependent applications, visit www.appneta.com.  Or, sign up for a free trial on your own network here.

These days practically every organization depends on multiple IP-based services, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud-based applications, VoIP, video conferencing, virtual desktops and IP storage. All these critical services depend on network performance. Today’s IP-based services operate within a narrow Quality of Service (QoS) range. When network bandwidth, latency, jitter and/or packet loss parameters drift outside those tight limits, critical business services are abruptly disrupted – we’ve all experienced the frustration from dropped calls, stalled teleconference and slow network access to Citrix and virtualized desktops.

To deliver the service levels that modern IP-based business applications require — across a distributed infrastructure — network administrators need instant, real-time insight into all the key network performance metrics from and at any location on the network. This enables them to pinpoint network problems accurately and rapidly. It is the only way to know what users are actually experiencing, and to verify QoS.

Traditionally, achieving this necessary level of  insight into network performance required costly technology investments, as well as a high degree of process complexity for administrators. Few organizations can justify those kinds of capital expenses in today’s financial climate.  Businesses are looking for rapid time-to-value on their IT investments;, this is the very reason that cloud computing, SaaS deployments and other IP-based services have become so popular so quickly in the first place.

Besides seeking rapid time-to-value, companies also need to know that the IT investments they make are proven and will generate a high return on investment (ROI). Many organizations are unwilling to deploy new IT management systems unless they are certain they will help solve real-world business problems and add real business value.

To address customers’ requirements for rapid time-to-value and verifiably high ROI, AppNeta recently launched PathView Cloud Trial Express. PathView Cloud enables network engineers and managed service providers (MSPs) to continuously monitor their networks and find and fix problems within minutes of deployment.

PathView Cloud’s network performance management capabilities include

  • Active troubleshooting of bandwidth utilization and QoS verification
  • Advanced network performance assessment and reporting
  • The ability to test and assess your network’s readiness for major infrastructure changes, such as deployment of VoIP, video conferencing or other IP-based services

The PathView Cloud TrialExpress offer includes a trial PathView microAppliance, weekly support workshops, and a one-on-one session with an AppNeta engineer. The trial period lasts fourteen days, and signup takes just 30 seconds online

To learn more about how PathView Cloud TrialExpress can deliver instant value and unequaled network performance insight to your organization, visit www.appneta.com.

The education industry is embracing cloud computing more rapidly than any other sector excluding large enterprises. According to recent studies by IDC and CDW, today more than one-third of higher education IT departments are either implementing or maintaining cloud-based systems.

Among the most compelling benefits that cloud-based services offer educational institutions are:

  • Low-cost, anytime/anywhere accessibility to high-end computing resources
  • The ability to seamlessly scale technology requirements (and costs) dynamically up or down in relation to demand
  • Increased efficiency of service delivery, leading to faster results
  • Simplified sharing of management resources for maximum efficiency at lowest cost

An additional benefit that cloud computing environments offer to educational institutions is flexibility: with cloud it’s easy to develop and deploy new “experimental” services, without the hassle and expense of upgrading systems or purchasing software licenses.

Cloud also meshes well with educational organizations because both are inherently distributed and network-dependent. Users that are spread across campuses, computer labs, dorms and classrooms need secure, reliable connectivity to a huge array of resources — from e-mail, to VoIP, to online classrooms and distance learning programs – over IP networks.

Even before the advent of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SasS), education network engineers were already well aware of the challenges of delivering IP-based services to thousands of remote users. However, as more and more services are delivered via the network, network health becomes increasingly business-critical.

In any industry, the need to derive maximum business value from cloud computing and other IP-based services, while minimizing the business risks associated with application downtime, makes network performance management increasingly vital. To manage network performance in the cloud, you need to

  • Guarantee service levels from the perspective of your users.
  • Continuously monitor network performance end-to-end between the cloud environment and remote users and back, even over public networks.
  • Quickly identify where network performance has dropped below acceptable thresholds, and why.
  • Verify that cloud, SaaS and other providers are meeting service level commitment

Traditionally it has been difficult or impossible to achieve these capabilities without expensive, administration intensive network instrumentation that is far outside the reach of most college and university IT departments. Now, cost and implementation barriers have fallen away with the advent of AppNeta’s cloud-based, instant-value Pathview Cloud network performance management service

AppNeta recently launched a Higher Education Discount Program that offers colleges and universities up to 70% off pricing. With Pathview Cloud, educational institutions can keep pace with their rapidly evolving user requirements and leverage innovative, cost-effective technology to maintain high-performing network services

Visit www.appneta.com to learn more about how AppNeta technology can maximize the benefits of distributed computing resources for educational organizations.

As a managed services provider (MSP), your clients look to you to keep their business services up and running. With the advent of cloud computing, SaaS, virtual desktops, VoIP, IP-based storage and other trends, more and more of those business-critical services depend on the performance of IP-based networks.

MSPs face new service delivery challenges, including:

  • Old-school, break-fix approaches to network management aren’t good enough anymore. MSPs need a way to proactively address network issues.
  • When IP-based services crash and ISPs, telcos and other providers start pointing fingers, how can MSPs know what is and isn’t their responsibility?
  • How to monitor and meet meaningful service levels that reflect client user experience?

SNMP-based tools can tell you about the condition of individual network devices you own. But what’s much more critical to network health is a “packet’s eye” view of the flow inside the network bloodstream.

And what about all the networks you don’t own, but have a huge impact on the quality of service your client users perceive? Not even the priciest network instrumentation (e.g., traditional netflow analysis solutions) can help you there

AppNeta’s PathView Cloud service enables MSPs to proactively manage network performance end-to-end between their data centers and service consumers. With PathView Cloud, MSPs can strongly differentiate themselves from competitors around issues of IP-based network and application availability – and also cut back on truck rolls and on-site visits.

AppNeta’s PathView Cloud service and free, zero-administration microAppliance, offers an easy-to-deploy, cost-effective remote monitoring and management service

  • Proactively monitor the performance of any network against customizable performance levels – from any location
  • Continuously measure key performance metrics (bandwidth, packet loss, jitter and latency)
  • Conduct pre and post deployment assessments for customers, to ensure the successful rollout of network performance sensitive applications like VoIP and Unified Communications (UC)
  • Receive e-mail notifications when your service levels are not met

With PathView Cloud MSPs can quickly and effectively solve real-world problems their customers encounter everyday.  AppNeta’s MSP partners attest to  rapid identification and resolution of even long-standing network problems. For example, PathView Cloud enables service providers to detect network bottlenecks so faulty equipment can be replaced, and also helps to determine whether ISP and telecom providers are providing contracted levels of bandwidth.

To learn how more about PathView Cloud and how to build a managed service around the remote network performance service, visit AppNeta or sign up for a free demo.


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