Keith Bromley
Sr. Manager, Product Marketing at Ixia

Making the Shift to Strategic IT

July 25, 2018 by Keith Bromley

As businesses look to drive more and more value out of the organization, is there a way that IT can help? While the answer could be yes, the problem is time. A study conducted by Enterprise Management Associates showed that around 41% of enterprise IT departments spend over 50% of their time responding to network and application performance problems. This leaves precious little time for value-add activities. A recent whitepaper from IDG shows how you can Turn Tactical IT Into Strategic IT With Network Monitoring.

The basic gist is that while tactical IT activities are necessary, they place a considerable drain on IT resources. What if you could reduce the amount of problem resolution time by just 10%? This would be more time that could be applied to deliver projects that increase customer retention, expand market share, and/or increase revenue. Again, while there is definitely value for tactical IT activities, the value is smaller than the value of strategic IT activities.

The question then becomes, how can you reduce the time you spend on application and network activities so that you can redeploy that time for strategic business tasks? The answer is to improve your visibility into the network. Organizations need access to data. At the same time, that data is overloading them. According to IBM research, over 90% of all of the data in the world has been created in the last two years. Network visibility allows you to capture and process key pieces of network and application data to:  generate business insights for better network and application performance, perform macroscopic troubleshooting tactics, create better security device efficiencies, and implement better compliance practices.

A lack of network visibility (geolocation of users and problems, device type and browser type information, real-time access to network and application performance as it transits across the network, etc.) is behind a lot of IT inefficiency. This results in a longer amount of time to put out troubleshooting fires than was necessary. Flow data, packet data, and performance data can all be combined to quickly create a detailed analysis. With this extra information, you can be more strategic and plan more effectively.

Increased network visibility is also critical when dealing with one of the top IT metrics, mean time to repair (MTTR). Approximately 85% of MTTR is the time taken to identify that there is, in fact, an issue, says Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. Even worse, Kerravala says, the MTTR clock starts ticking whether IT knows that there is an issue or not. Reducing this metric not only helps to give you back valuable time, it should help you improve one of your key performance indicators.

Network visibility can assist in all of these areas. The foundation of network visibility is the visibility architecture. This architecture consists of three element types:  taps, network packet brokers, and monitoring tools. Taps are simply passive devices that make a complete copy of the data traversing the network on that particular network segment. The copied data is then sent to a packet broker which allows you to aggregate all of your data, deduplicate it, strip off unnecessary headers or payloads, and then replicate one or more pieces of that data and send it to different monitoring tools. Once the visibility architecture is in place, reductions of MTTR by up to 80% are possible.

Some of the biggest enterprise changes today are cloud computing, shadow IT, and mobile/bring-your-own-device (BYOD). The thread that links these shifts is data handling. Each one, in different ways, enables users to create data from new sources. Network visibility should be a critical component of this shift to reduce your time and money spent on tactical IT activities.

For more information, check out the IDG whitepaper (Turn Tactical IT Into Strategic IT With Network Monitoring) and the Ixia ebook The Definitive Guide to Visibility Use Cases.