Zayo Logo

Introducing “Network Observability” – putting network monitoring on steroids


phinneas the juggler

A Managed SD-WAN solution by Zayo

How many plates do you have spinning right now? Your company is bombarded with information. Your network is becoming more complex, you’re deploying more software, and your workflows are containerized. Additionally, IoT devices are generating more traffic, applications span geographic regions, and you are managing data from more vendors than ever.

Now that you’re collecting all this data, you have a challenge. How to manage it? How to extract meaning from it? How to act on the intelligence the data provides? All this is made even more difficult since the information you need to analyze is spread across multiple monitoring tools.

No single tool was designed for this volume of information, and few tools have the ability to tackle huge data streams, especially from a network that’s no longer purely hardware based.

Until now.

Zayo’s zInsights customer portal goes beyond monitoring to the concept of “network observability.” Achieving network observability enables your business to manage, ingest, and analyze the vast amounts of data being generated across your network, and then to act on it in a way that improves performance and reduces disruptions.

Organizations are already familiar with monitoring. It continues to be a primary component in good network management. But the shift toward cloud and more complex services means that traditional monitoring doesn’t translate data to intelligence, or intelligence to action. Network observability will.

Network Monitoring is a process that identifies when something is broken, and notifies support staff that corrective action needs to be taken.

Network Observability provides more. Network observability provides health information about the internal state of your system, avoiding red herrings, and learning as it goes. It learns to identify the true cause of an anomaly or malfunction anywhere on your network, even before they take place. Network observability looks at network and system behaviors and predicts their outcomes. And best of all, network observability gives you actionable insights when less-than-optimal performance occurs somewhere on the network.

network monitoring coworkers working together 1

Why network observability? Because it eliminates fire-fighting.

Consider an all-too-common scenario:

There’s an outage and your IT group is doing a lot of finger pointing. The network, infrastructure, and security teams all put the blame somewhere else, but in reality no one truly knows where the fault occurred.

An IT organization can find itself firefighting for a number of reasons. The team may have a few visibility tools in place but the tools don’t provide enough insight, and IT is left to rely on end users to alert them to problems. Or the department may have a variety of tools but the alert cycle—from receiving it to checking it to correlating it across multiple systems to figuring out what the alert is actually trying to tell you—is still too slow to enable more proactive actions.

In both scenarios, the result is continued complaints and little progress in resolving issues before they impact network performance or the user experience. And with traditional polling occurring on timed intervals, you need to catch things at the right time to have any hope of acting on them before the calls start coming in.

Then there’s identifying what an alert really means.

  • Is a device down or is the link experiencing local trouble?
  • Are connection issues tied to upstream hardware or software?
  • Is it a carrier-side disruption? 
  • Is it an application error?
  • Maybe there’s an issue in the data center?
  • Is the overlay working properly?
  • Have we considered that it may be the connection to the end device?

Given the expanded scope of what needs to be monitored, you need a way to turn all those different data streams and metrics into useful information. You’re receiving data from the end user, the branch, the data center infrastructure, the cloud, Kubernetes and containers. Human oversight of so much information isn’t possible, particularly as businesses scale their use of cloud and edge services.

With many alerting platforms providing scant information in the initial trouble definition, IT must spend time tracking down the details before any resolution steps can be implemented. This pushes MTTR out further and consumes more internal resources.

What you need is an end-to-end view of the ecosystem that delivers a highly correlated and enriched incident definition.

network monitoring digital interfaces team meeting scaled 1

Imagine if your network observability tool simply provided the answer.

Network observability addresses all of this. It moves beyond siloed, hardware-based tools and monitors the end-to-end digital experience from a user’s device to where the application lives in the cloud. Achieving true network observability means having good—and timely—information about each hop in the network and the services that run across it.

Network observability takes everything into account – the devices, the network elements (from all equipment and service providers), the applications, the cloud. Plus, network observability learns. Using AI, it understands the entire environment and provides meaningful, immediate information and fixes when things go wrong.

Network monitoring is inherently a reactive process. It’s about polling a device or a service and, if it’s down or not operating at full capacity, IT needs to do something to resolve the problem.

Network observability moves IT to a proactive state. The system takes multiple sources of data and correlates them with logs, streaming data, APIs, event-based data and a host of other inputs, to provide a true proactive picture of how your network and your services are operating.

When you see Netflix traffic running on your network, do you know who’s running it? Do you know why? When a critical application fails, do you understand the true root cause?

Managing stability all the way through from the VPN to the branch, and from there to the Internet connection, the cloud onramps and through services such as Equinix to the hyperscalers—it’s far beyond the scope of many established network monitoring strategies. However, it’s a crucial chain to bring into the picture in modern environments. And, of course, IT needs a single pane of glass to maintain visibility across this sprawling network and its components, which simply isn’t possible with legacy monitoring solutions.

user interface network monitoring graphical concept scaled 1

Because network observability puts critical information in front of you prior to a device going down or a hard problem hitting your network, you can stay ahead of potential disruptions and performance gaps. Network observability delivers the right level of information, meaning you can see more things in the network. You have awareness of each network hop. If something is happening, network observability enables you to lower mean time to repair (MTTR), provides your root cause analysis, and ultimately cuts down on those giant outages that take forever to filter through.

Finger pointing and blame are eliminated because you have the information you need to understand exactly what’s happening in your environment.

Developing network observability becomes more important as devices—not just end user devices but IoT and others, too—move to the edge. That evolution brings additional complexity. Polling physical devices with hardware-based monitoring tools in an increasingly software-based environment no longer provides the awareness you need into your network’s underlying performance.

An end user’s device at the edge may be working and the cloud server may be running, but if something is happening to disrupt the quality of the experience between those two, only network observability quickly detects, identifies and resolves it.

Achieving Network Observability

The right solution leverages AI and machine learning (ML) to gather incoming data from multiple sources, enriches it and provides business context around events as they happen. That insight moves your business away from a reactive state and toward a proactive mindset. An upstream failure in the middle mile, a data center or a cloud—one that will surely affect downstream users — is identified and the remediation doesn’t need to wait until performance issues disrupt your operations. 

A modern network observability platform exposes more data within your network, processes it with AI and takes action on that data proactively.

Learn more about Zayo’s zInsights tool

As part of our Edge Networking Solutions portfolio, zInsights provides a comprehensive, single-pane-of-observability of your network’s Edge and all of its components.