What is Network Observability?
Network observability is about being able to monitor, understand and diagnose how well a network is working. It helps organisations make sure that their network is running smoothly and efficiently, so that they can deliver the best possible service to their customers or stakeholders. To do this, they need a platform that can collect data from different sources, like wire data and cloud sources, and use this data to identify any problems or issues. By understanding the "how and why" of network performance, they can make informed decisions about how to optimise the network and improve its performance. It's important to consider the current state of the network, as well as its future needs, when choosing a network observability platform, and to make sure it is scalable and can be deployed in the right places. It's also important to know what normal network activity looks like, so that you can identify any deviations from the norm and take action to fix them.
What is the difference between network observability and monitoring?
People often get network observability and monitoring mixed up because they both use data and tools to keep an eye on computer networks. However, they serve different purposes, and understanding the difference is important, especially for complex networks.
Monitoring is like a silent watchman. It quietly collects data about how well a network is doing and compares it to predefined rules. It's been around for a while and works well for simple networks without too many changes. If something goes wrong, it can tell you, but it's not great at explaining why it happened.
Network Observability, on the other hand, is more like an active detective. It works hard to understand the network's health and how it affects the people using it. It digs deep to uncover the hidden reasons behind problems. This is really helpful for networks that change a lot, like those with lots of new software, hardware, or big surges in activity. Observability helps predict problems before they happen.
So, the main difference is this: Monitoring is like a simple alarm system that tells you when something's wrong, while observability is like having a detective who not only spots issues but figures out why they happened.
Why is Observability of the Network Important?
The way we use computer networks has changed a lot recently, especially because of the pandemic and more people working from home. Applications that used to sit in one place are now floating in something called "the cloud," and new gadgets for our networks are popping up all the time. This means we really need to pay attention to how our networks are working, which is where network observability comes in.
Think of networks like big, complex spider webs that stretch all over the place. When something goes wrong in this web, like a device not working or a connection being slow, it can be a real puzzle to figure out what's causing it. Network observability helps solve this puzzle by using smart tools to find out what's happening and why.
Also, many organisations use a mix of their own computer stuff and stuff from the cloud. This can be really helpful, but it can also make it tricky to see what's happening in the whole system. Network observability can reach into these cloud parts and understand how they're talking to the company's own stuff.
Lastly, when we use programs and services that live in the cloud, it's like using someone else's computer. We don't have direct control over it. But we still want to know if everything is working well. Cloud observability helps with this by looking at all the information the cloud computer gives out, like a detective following clues.
So, in simple terms, network observability is like having a bunch of super-smart detectives for your computer network. They help figure out what's broken, even if it's in the cloud, so everything runs smoothly.
How to successfully implement observability
Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." This wisdom also applies when setting up network observability. When you're in the process of getting the tools you need, you should work closely with the people providing those tools. Together, you should figure out not just what your network is like now, but also how it will need to grow in the next three years to make sure it can support your business properly.
Here are some things to think about:
- Think About the Future: If your company plans to get bigger by buying other companies or adding more users and applications, your network will have to grow too. You don't have to buy everything right away, but you should get tools that can grow with you.
- Know Your Network: Look at your network and see if there are parts that are really important or sensitive. Maybe they have important data. Or maybe your network has grown in a bit of a messy way. You need to decide what needs watching.
- Collecting Information: Think about what kind of information you need to collect. It could be data about how things are working or who's using the network.
- Where to Put Things: Decide where to put the tools that help you watch the network. If you put them in the wrong places, it's like having blind spots.
- What's Normal: You should know what's normal for your network. This helps you spot when something's not right.
- Rules and Laws: Depending on where you are, there might be rules about how you have to keep data. Like, you might need to keep records of what's happening in your network in case something goes wrong.
- Following the Rules: Make sure you do everything the right way, following your company's rules and security checks.
- Who Does What: Figure out who's responsible for what in your team. Different people should handle different problems.
- Dashboards: Think about what kind of displays or charts you need to see how your network is doing.
- Locations: Make a list or map of all the places you need to keep an eye on in your network.
Planning all these things out is like making a roadmap for your network observability. It helps you see where you're going and how to get there. If you need a handy guide to help you choose the right network observability platform for your organisation, VIAVI has put together a helpful checklist called 5 Steps to Network Observability Checklist.
Once you've finished planning, you can start setting up network observability in a few logical steps to make sure the software fits your business needs.
- Installation: First, you'll need a team with different skills to figure out what computer resources you need and what kind of training is necessary. There are some easy-to-install solutions out there, like the VIAVI Observer platform, which comes with licenses and guides to get you started quickly.
- Finding and Gathering Data: You'll want to decide where to put things like sensors to watch your network. Sometimes, cloud services can help you see what's going on in places like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or in apps hosted in the cloud.
- Making and Setting Up Dashboards: Dashboards are like special screens that show you what's happening. You can make them show exactly what you need to know. For example, you can have one for bosses that gives them a big picture and lets them look more closely at details.
- Managing and Making It Better: Observability isn't just for fixing problems. It's also about making things run better all the time. You can make your observability tools collect data more efficiently and make your dashboards even more helpful. This makes your network work better too.
- Getting Expert Help: Sometimes, it's a good idea to get help from experts, like VIAVI. They have professionals who can help you plan, set things up, and get the most out of your observability tools.
So, think of it like building a house: first, you plan everything out, then you put in the foundations and walls, set up the rooms the way you want, keep the house in good shape, and if you need help, you can call in professionals. Building network observability is a bit like building a smart house for your computer network.
If you need help ensuring your network runs smoothly or have any questions about monitoring, understand or diagnosing your network, don't hesitate to reach out to us for expert guidance!
These dashboards give you at-a-glance visibility into your network’s underlying health with special widgets for web collaboration services, remote user monitoring, and much more.
Adding network teams and displaying executive-level dashboards is only the beginning. Check out the full Road to Observability eBook to learn more about management and optimization, a sample use case on capacity planning, and more.