Go back

The Top-10 Reasons To Deploy Continuous Network Assessment

by Mark Harris Jan 5, 2024

Network assessment has always been a hot topic. At first glance, it sounds amazing. It provides insight into what you have and how it operates. The assessment idea is simple: as networks grow and morph over time, it would be highly desirable to have an accurate representation of the entire structure from a documentation point of view to assist in all subsequent operations, including remediation, migration, and growth. That said, realizing that has always been a lofty goal.

NetBrain Next-Gen Release

Apply powerful automation to every incident, every change, every rule enforcement fast

Read More


Anyone who has spent their career in IT knows that network assessments have always been a huge and labor-intensive chore, typically involving scores of contracted network engineers trying to decipher and document what they can touch, over long periods of time (measured in months), and due to the labor-intensive nature of conducting assessments, the costs can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the scope and scale of what type of assessment is desired. So, what happens is network assessment becomes a once-every-few-years kind of audit or compliance project. It is conducted rarely and then filed away rarely to be seen again in many cases. Even worse, due to the labor-intensive nature of assessments, even when they do occur, very few aspects are assessed, typically the inventory of devices and the hardware-centric connectivity of- in many cases a small sample of devices at that.Health Assessment copy

But what if that accurate representation of the entire network structure was not only possible but automated? And what if the scope and scale of an automated network assessment were unlimited and could be conducted continuously? If this were possible, it would change the very nature of assessment and transform it from a compliance documentation task to an operational efficiency and outage prevention strategy. It would become the foundation of everything that network operations do.

NetBrain Next Gen Release 3 does just that. It’s an automated way of automatically assessing the performance, health, and status of every aspect of the network and its service delivery capabilities at scale. It uses a no-code interface to capture SME experience and it runs continuously and tirelessly so anything your team can imagine can be assessed across the entire network. In fact, since it runs continuously, it’s actually identifying minor problems before they manifest into production issues. In essence, continuous network assessment becomes your outage prevention plan and the Net-gen automation platform itself becomes your ongoing Day-2 automation resource.

But enough concepts and theories. Here is our 2023 hands-on list of the Top-10 aspects of a network that our customers have told us they are using NetBrain Next-Gen and its Continuous Network Assessment capabilities for:

  1. What has changed in my network? – The ability to understand the structure of the network relative to a previous point in time. Changes in Topology and devices occur for a wide number of reasons, and the communication of those changes in a large organization is less than perfect.
  2. Are there deviations from my desired configuration? – Again, changes happen for many reasons, some intended and some unintentional. Being able to detect deviations from the known-good or expected configurations goes a long way to preserving service delivery.
  3. Is my network healthy? – While qualitative to be sure, every organization can define a series of metrics that are required to meet minimum service delivery goals. The compilation of these critical metrics is a strong reflection of the overall health of a network.
  4. Am I vulnerable to security intrusions? – A wide range of NIST-inspired best practices exist to defend network operations, along with most major IT vendors providing their own Critical Vulnerability bulletins. Compliance with each of these must be verified continuously.Troubleshooting with Automation Runs at Machine Speed
  5. Are my networked applications running the way they were designed to be? – Every modern enterprise application expects the network to have various attributes for successful operation. With hundreds or thousands of applications, proactively understanding the health of each is critically important.
  6. Is my hardware end-of-life or end-of-support? – In large organizations, the number of devices is staggering, and in a cloud-oriented network, the sprawl can yield virtual devices that are no longer in use. Being able to identify inventory and the status of each component helps manage the bottom line.
  7. Are my Cloud, Data Center, WAN, and Hybrid network healthy? – Most enterprises have migrated HALF of their computing to the cloud and the remaining infrastructure is primarily software-defined. So, it’s very important to understand the health of the entire end-to-end network continuously.
  8. What issues have occurred recently? – This information allows a fundamental understanding of the resources being consumed on an ongoing basis. By understanding where problems have been occurring, operational plans can be adapted to address those areas first.
  9. Am I seeing recurring problems and where? – When unique problems are addressed, the ultimate goal is to ensure that those problems do not reoccur. By proactively evaluating all previous outage issues across the network, similar issues can be detected long before they affect production services.
  10. Do I have the capacity I need for each of my applications? – Networks are a shared resource and the performance of applications can be affected if not maintained. Granular network capacity can be verified to detect errant conditions that are affecting services, even before users report problems.

In the end, continuous network assessment is a game changer. It allows a much more relevant and informed understanding of the network, which has typically grown over many years, and in most cases becomes highly fragile and misunderstood in the process. Network Intents changes all of that since it captures the designers’ goals, and with the ability to assess all of those Network Intents continuously, IT leaders can view their service delivery plans from the top-down, rather than bottom-up. It’s time for Continuous Network Assessment…