June 15, 2023

Today's Networks are Complex and Complicated, but do they have to be?

by Mike Lossmann

Networks today are different from what they were ten years ago, and one could argue that depending on the organization you work for, these networks are different from those just a few years ago. The rise of hybrid networks has made troubleshooting these networks that much more complex. Before, it could have been a hub and spoke design from your end users to the resources they need to access in one of the data centers. Applications that needed to access data center services or other applications either went over a few racks to the services or perhaps just had to go to another data center.

Today, not only do you have to worry about your on-premises infrastructure, which could be comprised of dozens of vendors, several versions of code, and multiple ways to show output, but you can also have a software-defined data center solution and a multi-cloud presence that relies on the underlying infrastructure. This makes troubleshooting extremely difficult, as teams need proficiency across several vendors, and individuals must keep up to date on the nuances in code versions and know how to extract the necessary information from the platform in order to troubleshoot.

Most organizations don’t have a current network diagram because it’s constantly changing, and any created map is out of date almost before it’s published.

Back in the day, when I used to troubleshoot these complex networks to figure out what was going on, we had to involve several teams (e.g., the infrastructure team for the software-defined data center, the network team, the firewall team, and the cloud team). On a troubleshooting bridge, you will inevitably hear, “My side looks good,” at least once from every team on the call. Obviously, this does not help resolve the issue. Because everyone was running their own tools, they were working from individual data sets that didn’t tell the entire story–they believed their side was good, but perhaps they were missing crucial information.

The next problem that could arise is the assigned person from one of the groups not knowing the part of the environment being looked at or not having the proper knowledge of the technology in the path of the troubleshooting session. This, unfortunately, will affect the Mean Time to Identify (MTTI), drastically affecting the Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR), which can be costly to the organization, depending on the industry.

Troubleshooting is one aspect, but any day-to-day activity can make your teams less efficient because they are manually trying to prove that all the firewall devices adhere to their golden configuration, as the organization is being audited. Not only is this tedious, but without the proper data collection and storage, it’s impossible to prove a device was compliant at a date in the past.

All hope is not lost; these complex networks can be tamed! On June 22nd at 11:00 AM PST, join me and Steve Allie, our VP of Technical Services, to discuss how a digital twin can increase efficiency in complex hybrid networks. Click here to register for this webinar.

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