As government networks become more and more complex, maintaining the highest levels of network performance is getting harder and harder. The growth of hybrid IT makes things even more challenging. Networks are more distributed, and the supporting networks are under far more strain.
How do federal IT pros maintain a consistent high level of performance under these conditions? The answer is effective network management. Effective network management is a combination of the right tools and the right strategy.
The state of IT today
In a 2018 IT trends survey from SolarWinds, a whopping 73 percent of survey respondents answered “no” or “not sure” when asked if their IT environment is performing at its optimal levels. That’s a problem.
The right-tools/right-strategy combination starts with a good network management tool. One of the first things to consider is the ability to monitor traffic—across all networks, including hybrid IT networks. This monitoring can help ensure you see where users are going, the IP addresses they’re coming from, and if they’re trying to access unauthorized information or files.
With the ability to monitor traffic, you should also have the ability to analyze that traffic. Be sure you can see network performance across hybrid IT landscapes, multi-vendor environments, and cloud XaaS (Anything-as-a-Service) solutions. For the best results, look for solutions that provide auto-generating, contextually aware maps of network traffic. This can provide far clearer visualization of network performance throughout the entire environment.
Inventory as it relates to capacity
Maintaining an inventory of all hardware, software, applications, and equipment connected to your network is a best practice. This not only gives you a snapshot of your IT asset inventory, but also allows you to quickly detect unauthorized users.
That said, as networks grow and become more complex, inventory becomes a critical component of scalability, which will contribute to better network performance. The better a federal IT pro can understand a given inventory, particularly based on historic data, the greater the ability to forecast future network-infrastructure needs.
An application perspective
Understanding the applications powering the network is one of the next cornerstones of effectively optimizing network performance. This requires developing a holistic view of all applications, which in turn will result in a better understanding of how the performance of applications may impact the entire application stack.
Needless to say, a tool that provides this information is a must. With it, federal IT pros can quickly identify and rectify performance issues and bottlenecks without having to hunt through layers of applications to find the root of the problem. They’ll also be able to better check for slow load times or other factors that might adversely affect the end-user experience and keep an eye out for potential security risks before they become serious threats.
The right strategy: resiliency and reliability
Remember, effective network management is not simply investing in the right tool, it’s also implementing the right strategy. For optimized network performance, the right strategy is strongly focused on the information you collect. How you interpret that data, and ensuring the validity of the data, can be the difference between success or failure.
Federal IT pros should consider both the resiliency and reliability of their environments as critical performance metrics. Resiliency is the ability to provide and maintain an acceptable level of service in the face of faults and challenges to normal operation. Reliability is the ability of a system to recover from infrastructure or service disruptions, automatically scale resources to meet demand, and mitigate service disruptions, including misconfigurations.
Resiliency and reliability underscore the value that federal IT pros can bring to fruition for their agencies. They also represent measures of how well a distributed application was integrated and delivered, and also depict overall performance.
So, remember, to optimize performance, look to leverage tools that deliver full-stack observability into the logs, metrics, and tracing data that underpin reliability and resiliency metrics.