The Tower of IT Babel

Michael Vizard

One of the realities of enterprise IT today is that just about every application is being deployed over wide area networks that very few people inside or outside of IT understand.

Right now, wide area networks are the weakest link in the enterprise. Not only are they the slowest part of the network, they are also the most difficult to figure out in terms of what is actually happening. The end result is that people deploying applications over WANs become frustrated because they can't easily understand what is happening to the performance of any given application.

Trying to make it easier for everybody to understand what is happening on the WAN is one of the primary reasons that SolarWinds has rolled out a new Orion IP SLA Manager module. The basic idea is that by providing a management tools that makes it easier to decipher the information flowing out of Cisco routers and switches, the more informed everybody would be about application performance. What's handy about the SolarWinds module is that you can plug it in anywhere in the network to gather information about can Cisco IOS device on the network.

What's really at issue here, however, is that what is happening on the network has become too important to be left to the sole provenance of the network managers. Just about every application and the systems they run on are now dependent in some way or another on the wide area network. That means that information about what is happening on the network needs to be presented in a way that people can easily digest, as opposed to presenting a mass of charts and diagrams that can be understood only by an elite team of network specialists.

In all honesty, you can hardly blame a developer for writing an application that turns out to be a bad network citizen when the performance characteristics of the network platform are presented in an alien format. So the real question is, when are we going to put aside all our arcane nomenclature so we can actually start to talk about the same things in a relatively common IT language.


With all the various IT disciplines and competing acronyms in the world, it's a wonder anybody understands anything that anybody is actually trying to tell them. And the first subject that everybody needs to start having a common dialogue around is the WAN.

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Sep 30, 2009 9:31 AM Kenneth Klapproth Kenneth Klapproth  says:

Agreed-and with recent consolidations in IT positions, the fewer remaining people must cover a broader range of disciplines leaving less time and patience for techno geek-speak.  At Entuity, we have offered an IP SLA module for many years to gather technical forensics but also pioneered our 'InSight Center' to present business-level information we call 'perspectives'.  The configurable dashboard in each perspective synthesizes complex network data into easily understood, user-oriented displays to answer business oriented questions.  Over the years our customers have shared similar concerns and they tell us this approach helps them get beyond the typical geek speak 'tower of babble' that you describe.

Ken Klapproth - Entuity


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