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New Frontiers in Network Analytics

Networks have never been more vital, value-adding business assets. After all, they enable every electronic transaction and communication. They connect business locations spanning cities and continents. And they’re an enabling force for cloud and technology transformation.

But the value of networks is only matched by the potential disruption that can occur if something goes wrong. When that happens, your IT team is in a race against the clock to resolve issues – fast. Every second of downtime translates into unproductive users, frustrated customers and partners, and ultimately, revenue and even reputational loss.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way for your business.

Recent advances in network analytics are giving IT teams new tools with which to tackle network issues and resolve them faster and more effectively.

Let’s explore how:

A 360-degree view of network operations

If there’s anything that gets a network manager’s heart rate up, it’s the need to analyze individual application usage, patterns and flows of network traffic and respond – as they’re occurring.

But now, modern network analytics has evolved to the point where IT teams have at their disposal real-time, interactive dashboards that allow them to continually check the health of their network and applications and continuously monitor traffic flows. This puts them in a far stronger position to identify and appropriately respond to business-impacting events in the moment.

Advanced visualization provides a clear line of sight into issues at the site level, application layer or even individual-user level – in real-time.

But that’s not all: In addition to having immediate, real-time visibility into network performance, advanced network analytics capabilities offer you detailed retrospective analytics such as replay functions as well as forward-looking predictive analytics.

All this means rich and relevant insights – yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Safe and productive hybrid workplaces

Many businesses in the post-pandemic era are still supporting a distributed workforce. This means that the network is now required to support user demands that no longer originate from their traditional office headquarters.

Consider this scenario: An entire team in a particular region gathers for a quarterly virtual Town Hall meeting using Microsoft Teams or another cloud-based productivity tool. If most employees are joining from home, the demands placed on the network could result in performance or accessibility issues and a suboptimal user experience. If you can pre-emptively increase network capacity and/or optimize the applications involved, you can side-step these issues.

Then there are the new demands on the network to consider brought about by smart/safe building technology. For example, businesses are implementing data-driven initiatives such as location-based tracking to monitor workspace occupancy in office environments. These programs require large volumes of data to be collected and processed, which places an additional burden on the network.

Network analytics lets IT leaders keep their finger on the pulse of their network’s performance – and the fluctuating and geographically dispersed user and operational demands being placed on it – at any given time. It does this at the application, user, device and location level. In this way, any potential issues, bottlenecks or application overloads can be anticipated and mitigated before they manifest in employee or operational productivity dips.

Raising the bar on security

The lines between security and networking are becoming increasingly blurred, especially given the rise and mainstream appreciation of remote working as an entrenched model.

While traditional security analytics uses specific tools to monitor features such as firewall logs, network analytics goes a step further by identifying malicious patterns and potential attacks. If you can proactively anticipate security threats, you’re in a stronger position to protect against them and avoid the disruption they typically leave in their wake.

Network analytics is also particularly useful in identifying behavioural-based threats. A baseline model of the network can be created over time, and alerts raised when abnormal behaviour is detected.

Four requirements for operationalizing the network analytics opportunity

Getting the most out of network analytics goes beyond technology alone. It requires a mindset, cultural and behavioural shift.

We believe that unleashing the true potential inherent in network analytics requires a four-pronged approach:

1.    A clear vision and ambition: Start with a clear, well-articulated vision of the future and then translate this into an actionable ambition.

2.    The correct balance of skills and capabilities: This includes domain expertise, data science and computer vision. Also consider what additional skills, partners and capabilities are needed.

3.    Appropriate infrastructure. Put in place the right platforms to enable data exploration and ensure the quality of data sets collected.

4.    An insight-to-action mindset: Embrace new ways of working. This includes an agile approach to development that allows models and processes to be continually tested and improved upon.

To learn more about how NTT can assist your business extract maximum value from advancements in network analytics, download the e-book.