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The importance
of network visibility
for your business

Author: Danny Johnson

For enterprise organizations, network visibility has never been more critical—or more complex. IoT devices, cloud applications, remote collaboration requirements, mobile employees and network security concerns all mean IT has more and more traffic spread across more and more places. Recent business disruption has only shown the importance of enterprises being able to quickly pivot operations and allow employees to work from anywhere as office locations were shuttered around the world and buyers shifted their demands.

More businesses, with more people, are working from more places than ever before. And that is producing much, much more data. This rise in traffic means that you have new ways to better understand your customers and leverage data to optimize your operations. But it can also mean more network blind spots to navigate as traffic gets siloed across the network.

Without complete network visibility, IT managers lack the insight and ability they need to quickly make decisions on how to allocate their resources, optimize performance, and secure operations against unplanned downtime. This downtime can cost your organization considerably in lost productivity as employees struggle to connect to the data and systems they need to do their work, especially when their data and applications are kept in the cloud. The culprit: multi-vendor networks.

Cleaning up the multi vendor mess

More data requirements coupled with pressures to reduce operational costs often mean a multi-vendor management approach to cover different use cases, business units, and geographies. However, a multi-vendor strategy can actually increase operational costs as well your downtime risk by making your complex network even more complex to manage as you struggle to find out where the issue is, who is responsible for it, and who to contact to fix it. When you can only look at one network at a time, you lack the holistic insight you need to make quick decisions in a hybrid or multicloud environment.

This lack of complete visibility can also impact your future planning. As you seek to add new resources to drive efficiency and performance, it can be a struggle to calculate how much additional bandwidth demand that resource will create, and how you will serve it.

In addition, a multi-vendor approach can make it difficult to pivot and scale operations in the face of changing customer needs, new opportunities, or aggressive competitors. The more your network is sourced and maintained separately, the more inefficient you’ll be as you try to maintain policies and implement new solutions. This will limit your ability to respond and react with agility.

However, perhaps the most important reason to prioritize network visibility is its impact on cyber security. All it takes is one cyber criminal to find one weak spot to wreak havoc on your entire network. With their massive data troves, enterprises are a particularly favorite target of hackers, with the Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report showing that 72% of data breaches involved large business victims. The report also shows that 70% of breaches were perpetrated by external actors, precisely the kind of threat complete network visibility can help mitigate. Without the proper visibility, it can be impossible to identify and patch vulnerabilities in the network to prevent attacks or quickly respond when attacks do occur.

Proper visibility gives IT teams the ability to monitor network performance and the resources that run on top of it, such as services and applications. You have to be able to understand how every bit of data moves across your network if you hope to make the types of improvements and investments necessary to improve performance. However, end-to-end network monitoring in a multivendor environment can be difficult, if not impossible, impacting your ability to deliver a consistent, reliable experience for employees, customers, vendors, and other stakeholders.

Network visibility helps increase network security

Downtime can occur for any number of reasons:

  • Human error: This can include everything from IT failing to upgrade a network component or implement a security patch to an employee falling for a malware attack in a phishing email.
  • Equipment failure: Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) failures can mean that equipment may go out at the most inopportune time possible, such as during a natural disaster.
  • Network security breaches: A hacker can launch a ransomware attack that can cause your organization to lose access to important data and applications for hours, days or even weeks, grinding business to a halt.

While it’s impossible to completely prevent downtime, you can reduce the odds of downtime and increase network security with sound management practices that are informed by comprehensive network visibility. But with multiple network vendors, every minute you waste trying to figure out who to contact is a minute where your network is at risk or will remain out of commission in case of an issue. With a single global provider who can deliver both private and public connectivity solutions with native connectivity to your cloud and application resources, your visibility gains will be noticeable, your operations will be much more efficient, and your customers’ experiences much more impactful.

To prevent the risk of downtime, enterprises should seek to work with a provider who can offer software-defined network (SDN) capabilities coupled with hybrid connectivity platforms, such as MPLS-based VPN, public IP, SD-WAN, and 5G, for secure end-to-end visibility from mobile to cloud.

A global, holistic approach that offers SDN technology plus hybrid connectivity platforms will allow you to dial bandwidth up or down as necessary so that you can make network changes and prioritize traffic in near-real-time. It will also enable you to gain the visibility you need at both the network and application layer level to optimize performance and ensure network security.

Once you gain granular insights into your entire network, it will open up an ability to understand how each and every application, endpoint, user and service impacts your overall network performance, availability, and connectivity. This allows you to make intelligent decisions about how to filter traffic, what needs to be monitored, and where you need to make additional investments to shore up performance and reduce downtime.

While the allure of using low-cost networks in a multi vendor setup can be strong, enterprises can’t afford a lack of agility and performance. Only with a global provider who can deliver the technology options you require with end to end integration, can enterprises get the complete network visibility they require to keep up with customers, the market, and competitors.

Learn more about how you can overcome your network challenges to become a digital-ready business.

Danny Johnson, Director of Product Marketing, Network, 5G and IoT for Verizon, is a 20+ year veteran in the technology industry, is a seasoned executive possessing experience in software development, engineering, sales, consulting, product development, and marketing.