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New Research from EMA and NS1 Reveals Widespread Network Observability Challenges

Despite Wide Adoption of Observability Tools, One-Third of Companies Still Struggle to Consistently Detect and Remediate Network Problems before They Impact Business

New research from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) and NS1, the leader in smart network control solutions, reveals the state of network monitoring and observability tools, including the top challenges practitioners are facing. Results are available in the report, “Network Observability: Delivering Actionable Insights to Network Operations,” which provides a new definition of network observability that reflects practitioners’ needs and goals, and suggests the direction in which the industry should take.
The study shows that networking teams and executives are widely adopting network monitoring and observability tools, driven largely by the need to monitor the public cloud and edge infrastructure. However, networking teams aren’t fully satisfied, nor are they obtaining the actionable insights they need. Only one in four respondents report success with these tools, while 84.8% say they cannot detect every issue before it impacts the business.
EMA’s study combined quantitative market research with qualitative interviews with expert stakeholders to define network observability and provide a better understanding of the current market landscape.

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“Specificity is the best remedy for the marketing whiplash that IT professionals have experienced when trying to understand the idea of network observability,” said Shamus McGillicuddy, vice president of research, Network Management at EMA. “EMA believes it is critical to define network observability for IT buyers, so they and their vendors can effectively communicate with each other about emerging network operations requirements and the innovations that vendors offer to address those requirements.”
The report defines network observability as “a network monitoring system that collects a complete and diverse set of network data to provide deep visibility and actionable insights into the current and future state of a network. Those actionable insights include network performance, application performance, network security, and end-user experience.”
Data Collection Grows, But the Ability to Use It Effectively Falters 
A running thread throughout the report is the broadening scale of data collection. Respondents indicate they obtain more data than ever before, but struggle to store or analyze it effectively.
Additional findings include:

  • More than 85% of participants say the amount of data collected has recently increased, and for many, this is by necessity.
  • Increased data volume brings difficulties, such as storage issues and poor visibility. Data storage is a significant challenge for 43.5% of respondents. Network teams are also struggling to glean actionable insights, as 53% of all network tool alerts are false alarms that still require follow-up.
  • These deficiencies make it challenging to keep networks operating smoothly; 84.8% say they cannot detect all network problems before they become issues.

Companies Need Insights, But Conflicts between Tools Cause Challenges
As practitioners handle greater network complexity, they don’t have time to sort through analyses to find insight. They need insight immediately, directly from their network observability tools, so they can take action, yet struggle with a sprawling network of tools that do not integrate together effectively. This is a widely understood, yet still ongoing, challenge.
Additional findings include:

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  • Obtaining insights into network security, root-cause for network problems, and application performance rank as the highest priorities; however, four in five say they are not fully satisfied with the ability to obtain insights from their tools.
  • Fifty-four percent say they can only obtain useful insights if they customize new tools to work with pre-existing systems; however, many report that customization comes with cost increases.
  • These shortcomings have a substantial business impact; 88.8% say they cannot remediate every issue before the organization is impacted, and 84.8% cannot detect every issue to begin with.

“We’ve seen these findings reflected in our work with operations teams over the last decade. We consistently hear that success requires the ability to separate the signal from the noise, and obtain actionable insight quickly and at scale,” said Shannon Weyrick, vice president, research, at NS1. “These challenges have inspired our work, both in our enterprise solutions and on open source projects like Orb, as we strive to provide real-time network analytics at the edge.”
Network teams can use Orb, NS1’s open source edge observability tool, to dynamically tap into data streams at the edge. Fast streaming algorithms enable deep, real-time analysis of packets and flow, making it possible to obtain summaries of essential metrics directly at the source. Even as the amount of data increases, Orb’s fleet management and dynamic policy system enable scale with increasingly distributed and complex networks.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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