In a previous blog, Agency Modernization of Legacy Systems is Half the Battle, we discussed how distributed network visibility can help government agencies maintain continuity and deliver modern digital experiences by eliminating downtime across their entire network. We’re going to continue along that theme, but in this blog we will take a look at how greater visibility can help agencies tame their diverse infrastructure and keep their information and data flows moving forward in a productive and organized manner.
Almost two decades ago, a popular commercial aired featuring cowboys herding a large group of cats across the Wild West. It was memorable because it was funny, but also because it depicted (even back then) the complexity of managing services, information and transactions across a diverse enterprise. This is extremely applicable in the public sector, where IT teams and CIOs must contend with shifting political will and tightening budgets, while also meeting service expectations from constituents and mandates for improved mobility and accessibility.
The analogy is still very applicable today, with the public sector technology landscape much like the Wild West of old; filled with arroyos and blind canyons (Internet and cloud gaps) that your team may not even be able to see or access, populated by both good and bad actors, and holding unlimited potential for future expansion. The key to taming this complex terrain is to increase your monitoring capability to gain more comprehensive visibility into your agency’s entire IT landscape—even the parts it doesn’t own or control. Just as new technology and innovative solutions like the telegraph and railroad helped to tame the Wild West, today’s innovative solutions can be used to increase your team’s monitoring capability with visibility to tame your IT infrastructure.
Monitor Systems Across Uncharted Terrain
In the early days of network performance monitoring, troubleshooting network performance issues followed a linear path from a server to an application to an end user. Today’s public networks have become a complex web of disaggregated applications, virtualized infrastructure, multiple service providers and cloud and SaaS-based service components. Agency IT teams must maintain service to remote field offices, mobile workforces, low-latency locations, IoT infrastructure, hybrid/cloud environments, mission critical systems and customer-facing government services. Finding the source of problems across all of this diverse infrastructure that impact performance issues can be a challenging task.
One technology that many IT solutions employ is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML), which can be a force multiplier when used correctly. AI/ML synthesizes data from a diverse set of sources and uses a trained behavioral model to generate predictive insights. Tools that leverage AI/ML can identify issues and help agencies supercharge their IT network monitoring functions.
Train AI/ML for Agency Complexity
While AI/ML monitoring tools can help your IT teams to expand their monitoring capacity across your agency’s network infrastructure, it is only as good as the information it experiences. In the Wild West, you wouldn’t throw an amateur out on the range without the support from more experienced cowboys. The same is true of artificial intelligence. If your AI/ML is not trained in all aspects of your IT service delivery structure, its output won’t be reliable. It will only learn from a subset of a much larger picture, missing much of the key areas that need monitoring.
That means you need to take the time up front to train the AI/ML to account for the breadth and complexity of your agency. Government agencies that contend with multiple access layers, inter and intra-agency access requirements and divisional information silos must ensure they are accounted for in their AI/ML learning algorithm. If you only provide siloed or isolated data to an AI/ML, you can end up leaving a large experience gap between the infrastructure you control and much of your remaining applications and infrastructure.
Visualize Your Entire Agency IT Landscape
While this experience gap can be a significant vulnerability in many IT Ops visibility architectures, it isn’t insurmountable. Your overall network visibility should address all the elements that impact performance to develop a root cause when performance breaks down. It should include digital experience monitoring (DEM) network performance metrics like HTML server availability and response time, jitter, packet loss, page load and web transaction data, while providing insight into the root cause of the issue, in order for your IT team to resolve the underlying problem.
For most agencies, the Internet can be perceived as a black box—even though the Internet links nearly every endpoint, cloud provider, data center and regional office that they rely on to support their mission. In order to understand and link your specific DEM indicators to the underlying infrastructure and networks that feed them, your teams must have an in-depth operational view into the Internet. If your IT staff team can’t understand the external, Internet-based and interdependent ecosystems of software, micro-services, infrastructure, networks and ISPs that comprise the cloud, then its ability to troubleshoot issues is limited. Just as the railroad and telegraph brought information throughout the Wild West, Internet visibility solutions can allow agencies to develop actionable insights that drive performance throughout their enterprise infrastructure.
The Big Picture
Ideally, the end result of all this should deliver smart application performance monitoring across your entire mission landscape: inside and outside of your agency, across the Internet and around the world. It allows your team to proactively monitor your entire agency infrastructure, allowing your focus to virtually be on multiple locations at once.
ThousandEyes delivers the innovation that agencies need to tame their public infrastructure and harness the potential of the Internet to drive efficiency and effectiveness. With smart, real-time monitoring of BGP network routes, CDN providers and the most common public cloud providers, your IT team can see, know and interrogate networks across the Internet as well as they do their own.