Back in the old days of networking, the parts of the whole were pretty easy to see. Network devices like routers and switches were in-house hardware, and the users accessing the network were probably in the same building as the network. In the same way, network performance was easy to see. The scope of troubleshooting didn’t extend much past the networks that were in IT’s immediate domain.
In the meantime, though, functionality like encryption and tunneling have emerged to sit on the network, and abstraction reigns in a modern data center. A network path today makes many twists, turns, and hops as it carries packets of data from many origins and destinations, whether to and from remote locations, SaaS providers, or a cloud data center. It’s a lot harder to recreate the path that data took — or didn’t take — when a user complains.
Of course, network engineers have gained faster speeds and more tools and functionality, as well. They’re able to connect users in remote locations and over mobile devices as complexity has increased. However, modern network performance needs measuring, just like legacy networks did.
The gap between then and now is really visible in the lack of performance data that lots of companies are experiencing. The old monitoring tools don’t measure the application delivery path outside of a data center. Tracking metrics becomes much harder when the paths go in many unknown directions.
However, what’s really important to remember in this modern cloud computing world is that the old metrics have a ton of value. The key performance indicators that show how users are experiencing an application are largely the same as they’ve always been. What’s changed is IT’s visibility into those apps and experiences and their control over them. As companies move to the cloud, IT has lost the ability to see typical network metrics.
IT is still responsible for performance, but without the old metrics, gauging the performance they need to see can become near impossible. It is possible for IT to keep the control it needs, even when much of the company’s infrastructure is in the cloud. Of course, there are new metrics to keep in mind too. Finding the balance that keeps users happy and IT mostly hands-off will be different for every organization.