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Documenting your Network is Only the First Step

by Valerie Dimartino Mar 13, 2022

We all understand the value of documenting and mapping your network. You can identify where the root cause of the problem is faster, maintain compliance more easily and prepare for audits in a breeze.

But if you stop there, you’re overlooking the big picture. Now that you have the tools to identify and map your network topology from edge to cloud, you’ve laid the groundwork for taking NetOps to the next level.

We’re ready to take your network operations to the next level with a modern approach that builds on the foundation you’ve created with NetBrain’s Digital Twin and Dynamic Mapping technologies.

With your new network understanding, you can now stop problems from happening in the first place. The hard reality is that significant outages and service degradations are happening somewhere in the world every day and when these outages occur, they become front-page news. Not surprising since the world interacts with modern businesses through their digital footprint, and consumers expect this footprint to be running 24x7x365. For businesses, it comes at a huge cost for every moment they are degraded, not to mention the damage to their corporate reputation and impacts to customer satisfaction.

And while better maps and more tools might hasten every engineer’s response to outages, they do nothing to enable support engineers to prevent problems – like outages – from damaging your business.

Getting in front of the issues requires that NetOps thinks about service delivery from the top-down, without getting mired in the device-level details. Remember the business goal: Nobody wins if everything tests ‘good’ at the device level, but business applications are still suffering.

The role of modern network operations must be based upon the business intentions of the network and be optimized for scale and effectiveness. Remember, the network is the means to the business end.

Truly supporting the business means changing the all-too-common brute-force NetOps paradigm to take a top-down view. This approach provides a concise understanding of how the network delivers each of the business application intents. It’s powered by real-time visibility and an “everyone must do it” network automation attitude. Once the technology, approach, and attitude change, NetOps will be able to:

  • Provide consistent and shareable resolutions, by capturing the work of your best SMEs, thereby minimizing escalation delays and access requirements to your limited SME resources
  • Prevent potential problems from being created by enforcing the business application designer’s intentions continuously, eliminating tickets from being created in the first place

Business Intents Must Translate to Network Intents

Network Intent is the intent of your live network, in addition to the associated diagnosis logic to detect deviation of those intents. For example, QoS configuration along a traffic path is a network intent, and the diagnosis logic might be to check if they are consistent across all hops. Higher up the business value food chain, you’ll see that the real business intent is a highly functional VoIP deployment, which ultimately depends on networks providing bandwidth with a certain set of latency, throughput, and QoS qualities.

Hence, the business intents must be translated to network intents, which ultimately get translated to device configurations. It is this level of abstraction that makes NetBrain Next-Gen solution shine.

Let’s consider the topic of “Network Monitoring.” So many people think network monitoring is about talking to individual devices and displaying the results. In fact, it has been that way for decades. NetBrain’s approach is different but still checks that ‘monitoring’ box, albeit a bit differently, and a bit smarter. We approach monitoring from the perspective of monitoring the INTENT of the network, rather than device by device. And since the network intent has been crafted from business intents, we are monitoring the ability of the network to deliver the business IT services.

The premise of NetBrain Next-Gen story is simple: make network operations top-down with a platform focused on automating network problem diagnosis at scale. Intents are the only way to manage hybrid networks from the top-down. Remember, it’s not enough to monitor the individual devices in any network and claim success, success is based on the ability for all the devices to work together to deliver the performance each business application and service needs.

The Result

By establishing every network as a series of network intents, we can eliminate the device-level details from the operational staff. And since this level of abstraction exists, human error and errant changes can be eliminated since the operators and engineers are focused on the network intents, not the devices themselves.

Putting this altogether, NetBrain Next-Gen changes the paradigm for NetOps. Since NetBrain understands the intended role of the network in support of every business application, NetBrain Next-Gen can be used to enforce these rules and intents, proactively preventing up to 50% of abnormal network conditions that would otherwise lead to the creation of even more service tickets at some point in the future when those unintended network conditions begin to impact the business applications.