We had a great week recently at Cisco Live Barcelona speaking to a wide variety of IT organizations from Dublin to Qatar (and Moscow to Kenya) about what they see in their networks and what challenges they have around network monitoring as more of their IT assets move into the cloud. Here are some takeaways from dozens of conversations I observed and participated in over the week.
Cloud is coming for everyone
Consistently organizations told us that cloud was the future. I realize I’m not shocking anyone with that statement. However, it wasn’t just the large national and international commercial enterprises that we heard this. Air traffic control authorities, police forces and government departments from the Middle East told us that cloud was the future. Even for the most conservative organizations, the cloud isn’t happening today, but it is now at their doorstep.
Across the board, what we heard was that IT organizations are using more cloud providers for their employee apps, that they were increasingly building their apps in the cloud, and that their employees were more dispersed and more mobile than ever before. They talked about the need they see to leverage APIs to automate IT processes and integrate across technologies. They saw a shift towards SD-WAN and Direct Internet Access and a growing difficulty that traditional monitoring has in helping them know who accessed their network, from where and for what.
Competing for the connected customer requires proactive network monitoring
If your employees are connected, then your customers are more so, and bad news, they don’t have to use your applications if they don’t want to. Many organizations we spoke to last week, especially in finance, utilities, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail naturally focused on customer experience and the availability of their sites and applications to serve their customers. The challenging thing is that many of them are now responsible for managing a network entirely out of their control. As I kept hearing reference to Azure, AWS and GCP, the adoption of Infrastructure and Platform-as-a-Service solutions for app building, in addition to the outsourcing of business process apps to cloud service providers came out as a strong theme.
Think about this for a moment. Your online customer experience traverses multiple ISPs, and through multiple supporting cloud services such as DNS resolution, DDoS mitigation and CDN, to an application hosted on someone else’s network. None of the infrastructure is yours, yet the customer experience is still your responsibility. This scenario is where Network Intelligence–an advancement over traditional network monitoring that updates it for the cloud era, comes in. Showing customers how they could quickly set up tests from around the world that would map out the customer experience across all these networks and clouds and back to their application changed their perception of what was possible to see with network monitoring.
What network monitoring looks like when It shows you the Internet
Here is one of my favorite ThousandEyes views that we shared with customers in Barcelona (Figure 1 below). This Path Visualization shows a corporate network on the left (dark blue), to public Internet (grey-blue) to cloud provider network on the right (green). In this case, the green network is Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud, but equally could be any cloud on which you rely, whether for inbound customer experience or outbound employee traffic. Showing this level of visibility with the ability to drill into each and every hop on the journey starts to give back some of the control that for all its many benefits the cloud has taken away.
Our Cisco Partnership
The Path Visualization above showcases the kind of capabilities ThousandEyes can provide as part of our partnership with Cisco. In deploying our Enterprise Agents as Service Containers on the Cisco ISR & ASR routers (and, more recently as a partner in their NFV initiative, deploying natively on their ENCS devices) and generating Network Intelligence visualizations, the migration to cloud can be mapped out for you.
If you’re a Cisco customer and want to get this kind of network monitoring insight into cloud and digital business, check out information on our joint Cisco solution. You may also be interested in our recent Network Intelligence for the Modern Enterprise WAN eBook. Or if you’d like to try out ThousandEyes and see how your applications and networks are performing, even apps and networks you don’t own, you can sign up for a 15-day free trial.