Is Network Monitoring Keeping Pace with Data Center Growth and Virtualization?

Richard Rauch, President & CEO, APCON
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Network traffic growth and virtualization of the data center is becoming ubiquitous. According to recent industry research, global data center traffic is growing at 23 percent per year, and nearly three-fourths of servers in data centers are or will be virtualized in the next two years. The two trends provide a dizzying challenge to network engineers. Companies are deploying mission-critical applications to virtualized environments in an effort to reduce costs, increase service delivery speed and introduce greater flexibility. This virtual service innovation is coupled with network expansion needs, which increases challenges for security and monitoring.

For data center managers, visibility across a growing network, as well as virtual system security, are critical. In some situations, virtualization results in a loss of network visibility, with no ability to monitor potentially dangerous traffic flows. Coupled with expanding environments, security-monitoring solutions need to factor east-west traffic created within the virtualized server environment. This is in addition to monitoring the needs of growing north-south traffic of organizations and data centers.

Your approach to network monitoring and security needs to be part of your overall strategy in managing growth and migrating toward a virtualized service delivery model.

  â€‹Growing a data center infrastructure that relies more heavily on virtualization, security and efficiency requires a comprehensive and strategic approach to monitoring  

Managing and securing a network can pose challenges, and a key consideration will be your access to all traffic across the entire network. As a result, it may be time to examine your current monitoring architecture and tools and decide if an update is necessary. Here are six key considerations.

Single Solution. Your goal is to monitor 100 percent of network traffic between switches, routers and any other points of access within the network without disturbing or slowing down information flow. You can extend visibility into virtual environments with a monitoring solution that allows you to seamlessly monitor both virtual and physical networks through a unified monitoring architecture, while also increasing security and lowering expenses. Considerations need to factor scale, ease of management and tool utilization.

Simplicity. Look for unified solutions featuring a centralized monitoring and management software with a simple graphical interface and easy-to-use point-and-click monitoring, which enables multiple user groups including NOC, network administrators, security and policy management to quickly access data of interest.

Tool Efficiency. An ideal solution makes better use of existing investment in security and network analysis tools. Users can utilize filters and deduplication technology to forward only traffic of interest to security and network or application performance monitoring tools, thus reducing the impact on valuable resources.

Low Impact. You can achieve additional efficiency and cost savings with a monitoring solution that doesn’t require the deployment of additional agents or the installation of custom software, minimizing the impact on network resources and staffing. Find a solution that enables users to monitor all points and all traffic within the network, all the time, while offering the scalability you need for future growth.

Enterprise-class Security. Combining the simplicity of single user multisystem access with enterprise-class security means you need to ask if your monitoring solution offers TACACS+ and Radius secure user administration with AAA authentication, secure HTTPS/SSH transmission and session time-out enforcement.

Permission Control. Lastly, but not with any less importance, consider user permission control for administrator, operator and guest users including enable and disable features per user group for flexible permission control.

Growing a data center infrastructure that relies more heavily on virtualization, security and efficiency requires a comprehensive and strategic approach to monitoring. In particular, managing a hybrid network with an intelligent monitoring solution allows you to combine data from both environments and condition it as necessary to provide your monitoring tools with complete visibility. The right solution can save you both money and headache, and give you confidence in terms of performance and security.

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