Widely distributed enterprise networks, already intricate to manage, are facing a new reality: hybrid working is here to stay. Far fewer employees now choose the office as their primary workplace – and for this network-dependent workforce, outages are unacceptable. 

Detecting and resolving network and IT issues faster boosts productivity, guarantees a lighter workload for IT teams and creates a better user experience. But in complex IT environments, it remains a challenge to locate the source of a network problem and find the time to fix it.

And, unsurprisingly, 89% of IT executives have operational concerns about running complex, intelligent networks while complying with security requirements, according to NTT’s 2022–23 Global Network Report.

Fortunately, innovative new platforms and technologies are advancing the possibilities of network visibility and observability with automated monitoring. Extending the scope of network visibility with data-driven observability promises to make it easier to keep your network running.

Before you upgrade your network, get to know the differences between visibility and observability. Then, find the balance between them that will deliver results for your organization.

Beyond the network observability buzz

Increasing network visibility is linked to improved monitoring. It focuses on using your monitoring results to have a solid grasp of what's happening across your IT environment, including the impact of events on business processes and users.

As network data volumes grow dramatically and more devices connect to networks than ever before, network monitoring can no longer rely on the labor-intensive and manual approaches of the past. There’s a compelling business case for shifting to automation instead. AI-enabled processes and platforms can lead to a massive reduction in the number of incidents requiring manual intervention, along with a noticeable improvement in both the time needed to identify issues and the time required to repair them.

If visibility is about having a clear picture, then observability is about getting the big picture – and finding answers, fast.

Network observability allows us to move beyond individual network infrastructure components to see the bigger picture. Data and insights gathered through sophisticated monitoring, powered by AI, machine learning and IoT, gives teams deep and granular insights into trends and performance.

They can collect a broad and complete set of data on the network's past, current and future states, leading to actionable insights. This allows your organization to identify and understand patterns of network issues and put preventive measures in place.

Overcoming challenges to improve network visibility

Modern organizations need modern networks, yet legacy infrastructure – including hardware and software in standalone, disparate systems – is holding many back. Older networks prevent complete monitoring and observability. It can take hours, even days, to identify the root causes of issues. When a single component goes down, this can have a domino effect on network access and users.

To address this, you need to go beyond seeing just the various elements of your IT environment to reach complete network visibility, down to each network layer, while paying attention to the user experience. Digitalized network monitoring strategies allow you to measure normal conditions, know when and why performance is lagging, and optimize network traffic more effectively, accurately and holistically.

Introducing network observability into your core operations

The more observable your network is, the better. You’ll be able to solve more performance issues, in real time, end to end – from device and user access to cloud applications.

Observability relies on gathering network metrics, events, traces and logs. This requires digitalization across tools and practices, and for this, you need digitalized infrastructure. Gaining a single view and deeper understanding of your network means untangling any current complexities, upgrading your systems and platforms, and breaking down IT silos so you can observe your network as a single entity.

Observing cloud applications and performance presents many challenges, especially as traffic can bypass corporate infrastructure and take on unidentified loads. To digitally aggregate what's happening across multicloud environments, the applications, infrastructure stacks and user experience need to be built into your core operations.

Making users the key metric of your enterprise network

Your corporate IT network is only as good as the user experience. Every investment, decision, question and effort needs to relate to how your IT assets function and how they improve the user experience.

As the needs of users evolve, with remote workers expecting office-like performance and hybrid workers looking for a home-like experience, proactively managing your network performance has never been more important. The move to more digitalized networks for better observability, actionable insights and informed decisions will keep your organization moving forward.

Read more about NTT’s full-stack 360 Observability.