Keith Bromley
Sr. Manager, Product Marketing at Ixia

What Is Network Visibility for APM and NPM?

May 24, 2017 by Keith Bromley

Most everyone in IT has heard about network performance monitoring (NPM) and application performance monitoring (APM). But what are the real benefits? For instance, what kind of information do I really get and is it worth the investment? Also, what about the complexity involved with these types of solutions?

I recently participated in a video podcast with Jason Suss of Dynatrace. We discussed these questions to get to the root of the matter. The answer boils down to implementation. Essentially, did you install a visibility architecture first (so that you can optimize the flow of information to APM and NPM tools), or did you just add point solutions for APM and NPM? The answer will determine the effectiveness of your performance monitoring solutions.

The Visibility Architecture concept is extremely important because it organizes the flow of information to security and monitoring tools. Without it, you don’t know what the quality and integrity of the input data to the tools is. A Visibility Architecture delivers an end-to-end infrastructure which enables physical and virtual network, application, and security visibility. Specifically, network packet brokers can be included in the architecture to parse the requisite data needed and distribute that data to one or more monitoring tools.

Once the network packet brokers are installed, it makes it much easier for the APM and NPM tools to optimize your network and application performance. In addition to these tools, other capabilities, like application intelligence and proactive network monitoring, can be installed as part of the visibility architecture to further increase the range of capabilities.

Specifically, here are some example use cases of what you can accomplish when a Visibility Architecture is combined with performance monitoring tools:

  • NPM solutions can be used to improve the quality of service (QoS) on the network and optimize the network service level agreement (SLA) performance
  • APM solutions can be used to improve quality of experience (QoE) and optimize SLA performance for network applications, i.e. capture data that can be used by an APM tool to observe and diagnose application slowness
  • APM can be used to analyze user behaviors
  • Application intelligence can be used to identify slow or underperforming applications and network bottlenecks
  • Proactive monitoring provides better and faster network rollouts by pre-testing the network with synthetic traffic to understand how it performs against either specific application traffic or a combination of traffic types
  • Proactive troubleshooting can be performed with application intelligence to help you more quickly anticipate where problems may be coming from
  • It is possible to prevent applications from overloading the network bandwidth by using application intelligence to “see” application growth on the bandwidth in real-time and prevent catastrophic events
  • You can also conduct inline network performance monitoring to optimize A/B traffic route flows (i.e. investigate path latency and performance problems)

In the end, any performance monitoring solution is only as good as the quality of data feeding the tools. Extraneous and duplicate data affect the ability and speed of monitoring tools to come to an accurate analysis. Visit the podcast I mentioned above and the Ixia Out-of-Band Visibility solutions page to see how network visibility and visibility architectures can help you.