Assurance visualization can prepare network operations tools to meet the demands of increasingly complex networks. And the limitations of today’s tools are indeed a cause for concern.
- Will they be efficient enough to meet new network operations requirements?
- Will they scale to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s network operations environment?
As networks evolve to next-generation IP/optical technologies, cloud networking, software defined networking (SDN), and network functions virtualization (NFV), network operations tools need to evolve, too.
THE NETWORK OPERATIONS TOOLS EVOLUTION
Innovation is happening and better technologies are emerging. Among them, network assurance visualization is useful for enhancing network monitoring, troubleshooting, and analytics.
NFV and SDN require network management systems (NMS) to meet the new performance monitoring and assurance visualization challenges created by these rapidly changing virtualized network environments. And big data analytics and new web software frameworks have unlocked the potential for new assurance visualization approaches that will radically change network operations tools.
The end result will be a dramatically enhanced, more visually insightful approach for assuring networks and services that enable operators to utilize a wealth of real-time and historical data in a meaningful and effective way.
This blog is the first in a series that discusses network assurance visualization in the context of gaining efficiency in addressing various network operations challenges.
TRADITIONAL FAULT MANAGEMENT CAN IMPEDE EFFICIENCY
Even the most seasoned network operators find it challenging to diagnose the problems in a network with high fault volumes. To manually interpret alarms within an alarm list and isolate problems efficiently, you need to identify the relatively smaller number of root causes quickly and focus on investigating the highest priority problems first.
Some of the better fault management and network operations tools in the industry simplify and automate this process through alarm de-duplication, suppression, and correlation. This de-clutters the alarm list by lowering the number of alarms that network and service operators have to filter and sort through.
“Service aware” network operations tools go further by performing alarm correlation between services and underlying infrastructure, out-of-the-box. There’s no need to develop custom configurations or scripts to map out the many relationships needed to link the volumes of individual services to all the underlying network infrastructure layers and network resources. Service aware network operations tools are also able to correlate alarms network-wide across end-to-end services composed of multiple service segments – even if they use different service types or span different network technology domains.
Despite some of the latest network operations software technology advancements, operators can still find it difficult to know where to start when there are many active faults -- especially when using the more traditional fault management approach that involves navigating alarm lists. It is also not uncommon for operators to sometimes lose their bearings as they open many windows when troubleshooting faults across multiple different views and forms.
It is often difficult and time-consuming to uncover and prioritize all the root problems from symptomatic alarms. This can mean that operators only address the root cause of problems on a best-effort basis. Alarms unrelated to the particular fault being investigated may tend to move operators in the wrong direction when troubleshooting a specific problem – and this increases the mean time to resolution (MTTR).
SERVICE AWARE FAULT MANAGEMENT WITH ASSURANCE VISUALIZATION
Many traditional network operations challenges can be alleviated by adding assurance visualization to fault management workflows within a service aware NMS.
For the most effective assurance visualization, it is fundamental to use service aware network operations tools that possess a high performing, scalable framework for alarm and event correlation. This will insure a highly optimized environment for efficient traversal of relationships across the managed network and services model in-memory. And that’s exactly the prerequisite to be able to pinpoint root causes with speed and at scale, while also enabling their isolation from downstream network infrastructure impacts.
With this advanced service aware fault management, issues are automatically isolated down to the root cause to enable the delivery of assurance visualization. Assurance visualization enables network operations to detect emerging problems faster and accelerate the troubleshooting process to reduce MTTR. It achieves this by giving network operators intuitive, holistic views so they can:
- Quickly understand which problems merit immediate investigation, and where to start
- Clearly see and easily diagnose where the root cause of a problem resides – as compared to the ripple of symptomatic alarms that stem from the root cause
- Distinguish unique problems and their magnitude of impact on the network and services, in order to hone in on the highest priority issues first
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