Accelerated cloud adoption and a remote workforce are reshaping network boundaries worldwide. VIAVI active monitoring solutions with patented end-user experience scoring establish the visibility needed to maintain robust levels of service quality.
As more applications migrate to the cloud and remote working becomes the rule rather than the exception, network observability has taken on added complexity and importance. VIAVI has risen to the challenge by building advanced network monitoring platforms on a foundation of actionable end-user experience scoring algorithms.
By combining and improving passive and active monitoring data sources, VIAVI has established new levels of insight into the remote user experience, cloud-hosted SaaS performance, and the scope, severity, and root cause of network issues. This commitment to 360° network visibility and proactive issue resolution benefits industries ranging from banking and finance to healthcare and manufacturing.
What is Active Monitoring in Networking?
Active network monitoring utilizes simulated user behavior to assess network performance metrics in real time. By deploying software agents that continually generate realistic transactions, network health can be monitored regardless of actual traffic conditions.
- Active testing, synthetic testing, and synthetic monitoring are additional terms used to define active monitoring methods. In each case, simulated network behavior is leveraged to predict issues before they happen and establish a high level of end user satisfaction.
- Synthetic monitoring methods utilize automated test scripts to create virtual transactions that blend in with real world traffic. These scripts can be deployed within the internal network to ensure hardware stability or launched externally to strategically monitor third party performance.
Why is Active Monitoring Important?
According to the 2021 VIAVI State of the Network report, the number of organizations with fifty percent or more of their applications hosted in the cloud has doubled since 2018. Legacy IT systems designed to monitor local hardware and applications no longer suffice. Comprehensive methods and diverse data sources are needed to ensure high performance levels and speedy issue resolution in the hybrid cloud environment.
- Cloud-based delivery models make computing, storage, and application software available on a pay-as-you-go basis. With the underlying infrastructure managed by the service provider, customers can lower their operating costs and scale operations appropriately. Cloud and hybrid cloud environments make it difficult to sort application, network, and user-related factors as potential sources of performance problems without advanced active monitoring tools.
- Application Performance Monitoring (APM) is a holistic practice used to observe the behavior of applications and adapt their parameters before issues impact customers. APM combines real user data like usage trends, response times, error rates, and transaction flow data with synthetic testing results to minimize application monitoring blind spots.
- End User Experience (EUE) is the one metric that determines success or failure from both IT and bottom-line perspectives. The growing number of remote workers accessing applications via the cloud places a premium on uptime and productivity. Virtual test agents deployed at network endpoints produce valuable metadata. Advanced VIAVI EUE scoring combines this information with enhanced flow records and packet level analysis to ensure application issues are highly visible.
Active Monitoring Uses
By proactively injecting test traffic into the network, active monitoring provides real-time insight based on simulated experiences. The use cases that benefit most from active network monitoring are those that directly influence productivity and quality of service (QoS) for the end user.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Cloud-based delivery of application software, configuration services, and automated software updates is now standard for many software providers and their customers. SaaS has expanded to include business-critical workloads like financial services, human resources, customer service and sales. Establishing higher visibility levels through a combination of passive and active monitoring is essential for assuring ongoing application performance and end user satisfaction.
- Remote Working: IDC statistics indicate that roughly 30% of employees will continue to work remotely, compared to just 6% in 2019. This transition has led to overloaded VPNs, security issues, and more blind spots in the network landscape. Proactive monitoring and end-user experience scoring can be used to assess VPN health, interpret network conversation paths, and troubleshoot performance issues efficiently in a multi-vendor, multi-cloud environment.
- Cloud Migration & Pre/Post Cloud Deployment Performance Validation Testing: With the massive potential upsides including reduced IT compute cost and enhanced service agility, moving applications and services to the cloud is now more of a business imperative. However, challenges persist such as uncertainties about security, overall cost savings, and mission critical service failures. Often overlooked is ensuring that application performance does not suffer. That’s where benchmarking “before and after” migration testing can be invaluable to ensure service levels are maintained to achieve peak IT stakeholder satisfaction.
Active Network Monitoring Benefits
Active network monitoring provides benefits for organizations, IT teams, and users that cannot be realized through conventional monitoring of real-world data and KPIs alone. The advantages of active monitoring help to mitigate the complexities of wholesale cloud adoption and an increasingly dispersed user base.
- Improved network visibility is a fundamental benefit of active monitoring. Since synthetic testing practices are not bound by actual usage patterns, virtual traffic is configured to stress test potential bottlenecks and challenges. This includes new hardware or software installations and complex, data-intensive transactions within a given application.
- Continuous testing contributes to improved visibility levels by ensuring changes, trends, and security threats are reacted to immediately. Virtual agents or scripts are programmed to cycle through transactions 24/7 so that potential issues are identified and diagnosed in real time.
- IT efficiency improves dramatically when issues are located and corrected before impacting users. Rather than processing scores of redundant tickets or scrambling to respond to alerts and complaints, active monitoring methods allow IT teams to spend more time establishing SaaS performance baselines or proactively addressing trends.
Active Network Monitoring Challenges
Despite the advantages of active monitoring and synthetic testing, predictions based on simulated use are not always consistent with real world results. Many of the challenges associated with active monitoring become more acute as cloud adoption and the quantity of endpoints increase.
- Cloud Visibility: As cloud migration accelerates, the cloud itself is being redefined. SaaS providers are leveraging hyperscale data centers with complex traffic flows, distributed architecture, and high fiber and interconnect counts. Outsourced cloud infrastructure also eliminates the option of deploying physical monitoring probes.
- Vendor Tools: Application-specific monitoring tools can lead to KPI overload, with each app defining success separately and high-level priorities unclear. The VIAVI EUE scoring model replaces individual app monitoring with a single metric to provides more comprehensive and actionable insights.
- IT Skills Gap: Each new generation of IT professionals must decipher more metrics, alerts, and raw data than ever before. Active network monitoring tools from VIAVI overcome this complexity by providing intuitive user scoring, dependency mapping, and site-based performance maps to further the knowledge and capabilities of new IT talent.
- Automation: Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation have enabled the continued evolution of cloud computing and SaaS. Distilling a combination of packet, flow, and active test data into user-friendly workflows and diagnostics requires similar levels of automation and intelligence when applied to hybrid network monitoring.
Difference Between Passive and Active Monitoring
Network monitoring in a hybrid IT environment requires a combination of tools to produce a complete picture of network health. Both passive and active monitoring practices employ effective methods that contribute to improved visibility and assurance.
- Active Monitoring adds value by simulating user traffic between any two sites in the service path and continually collecting metadata generated by agents. SaaS app assurance and remote working scenarios are elements of the network landscape that benefit most from configurable active monitoring.
- Passive Monitoring methods recognize the value of real-world data including deep packet inspection and enriched flow records. Although the monitoring itself is deemed “passive”, the intelligence used to stitch together traffic flow and infrastructure data is proactive and insightful. These real user metrics and forensics compliment the active monitoring outputs.
- Hybrid Monitoring describes an optimal combination of active and passive monitoring best practices. This unified approach expands on the benefits of APM to provide 360° visibility across the entire network landscape. The VIAVI Observer 3D platform integrates full fidelity wire data capture, enriched flow records, and active test data to enable timely issue resolution and observability in every hosting environment.
Active Monitoring Tools
VIAVI has leveraged decades of network monitoring experience and customer collaboration to develop advanced active network monitoring platforms. Building on the success of patented EUE scoring, these proactive monitoring solutions eliminate visibility gaps for cloud-hosted applications.
- Observer GigaTest features the industry’s first end-user experience scoring enriched by both packet and active test data. Three unique virtual agents include a Windows agent for Windows-based servers and workstations, a virtual agent for popular VM environments, and a Raspberry Pi on-premises agent. As an available option for the Observer Apex platform, GigaTest enhances end-to-end network and SaaS performance visibility including remote user service assurance.
- Observer Apex is a centralized network performance monitoring platform incorporating proactive analytics, one-click application dependency mapping, advanced network forensics capabilities, and intuitive, customizable dashboards. Machine learning is leveraged to produce EUE scoring for every network transaction. These user-based metrics are seamlessly integrated into workflows and dashboards that take the guesswork out of troubleshooting.
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