Today, network managers also need to correlate network performance with the systems and applications the networks sustain, and they have to do it in an increasingly distributed, complex environment of virtualization, clouds and physical infrastructure. They need tools that measure which applications are using more than their share of valuable bandwidth, as well as which applications must take priority. They also need tools that illustrate how an application is performing from the end user's perspective and not solely from the traffic analyzer's perspective. Network managers need to work more closely with server administrators, business managers, external service providers and others to ensure the IT infrastructure on which the business operates is available and performing optimally. Service-level agreements (SLAs) need to be met. Finally, network managers need to proactively identify and fix problems well before anyone knows there is an issue. Clearly, the job is not for the faint of heart.
Fortunately, network monitoring tools continually evolve in sophistication. They have gone beyond a basic collection of packet and flow data to the capturing of extensive performance data that can lead to root-cause analysis and predictive monitoring. They are using sophisticated behavioral analytics models that learn the network and report problems that may impact the business. In short, they are designed to help IT departments align the network with business priorities.
A Multi-billion Dollar and Growing Market
If size is any indicator of significance, then network management and monitoring solutions are clearly top of mind for many organizations. In 2008, market research and analysis firm IDC estimated the network management and monitoring market to be worth $1.9 billion, with a projected 6.6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the network management market through 2013.