Imagine a scenario in which you are running a large server farm. The CPUs are running optimally; storage is well within the bounds of low latency and growing predictably. But what about the network? Most CIOs have some form of network monitoring in place? The question is what does it do and how does it help?
For the CIO with an eye on the bottom line, the two key issues are risk assessment and asset management – in other words how to get the most from the current infrastructure without risking a service outage.
From a pure risk assessment, IT administrators are able to look at the data centre environment and build a risk profile, yet many find managing a network to be more complicated than this. It is one thing to be able to fully visualise your network, but how many IT managers can honestly say that they know what the consequences of a network failure would mean?
As a result of this, networks are often over-engineered. Networks are built with extra resilience to tackle all eventualities, because anything that can fail will – eventually.
Chancellor George Osborne announced in the March 18 budget that the UK needs to make a further £30bn more savings by 2017, which inevitably means faster and harder cuts in the public sector. Network and data centre managers in local or central government will not have the luxury to continue paying for extra network capacity that is never utilised fully because it has been built for resilience.
On the other hand a major service provider was recently able to shrink its optical network requirements by 60% – by reducing the amount of resilience it allowed for. So imagine the savings that can be achieved when utilisation is increased in parallel with understanding the consequences of failure. Building a network based on calculated risk is surely common sense?
If you can take out 1-2% of the network – without seeing service degradation of course – the savings quickly stack up; particularly for companies with sizeable infrastructures. Network analytics simply enables this process to start from a more sensible place – being able to make better informed network decisions in turn means the business is better prepared to deal with changes; planned or otherwise.
Armed with this level of network insight the CIO can then feel confident to present back to stakeholders a robust case for (and against) lowering network resilience or for further investment in infrastructure, backed by a clear explanation of the impact of network optimisation. This not only makes sense for the network but for the business running it.
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