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The 8 Analytics Features You Need to Get Your Time Back

Understanding key requirements for full visibility and insights

Imagine you are the IT director of a hospital managing the IV pumps that deliver life-critical medicine to patients. Or, you are CIO at a school district and on a testing day, the teachers complain the testing application is running much too slowly. In these scenarios, you are directly responsible for human experiences.

What if there was a way you could solve these network challenges and save numerous hours? What would you do with the extra time? Spend it with your family? Work more on driving your organization’s digital transformation? With a self-driving and self-healing autonomous network that gives you quick insights and analytics, this is possible.

You Need Visibility and Insight

To prevent issues and solve problems faster you need visibility across all areas of the network, and that’s not easy. The mix of devices connected to the network, combined with the numerous applications running across it, is a challenge to monitor.

For visibility across your entire network from the wireless edge to the data center and across multi-cloud, you typically need several different tools that each gives you only partial insights. It is error-prone, time-consuming, and pain-staking each time you have to log into different applications and navigate various interfaces.  However, with the right analytics tool, you can get consistent visibility and actionable insight across network silos and take actions proactively.

In the following, I’ll share what you need to look for in an analytics tool to get your job done faster, securely, and in support of your business. Here are eight features you should look for in an analytics solution:

1. Make Analytics Work Hard for Your Business

Achieving insights into your network and applications is not just an operational and security necessity, but a direct contributor to revenue. Knowing what is going on in your network gives you many tangible benefits. You need an analytics tool that gives you a comprehensive view, so you can:

  • Engage customers and partners on a personal level and drive positive outcomes
  • Manage risk more effectively by knowing who is accessing your network, as well as where, when, and with what device they are doing so
  • Enable your IT team to act with agility and speed based on real-time information

2. One Tool for Visibility and Insights Across the Entire Network

With a versatile analytics tool, you can increase security, monitor application experiences, and troubleshoot IT issues fast. You want a tool that provides a large breadth of capabilities in ONE single pane of glass, so you don’t need to purchase multiple expensive tools. This tool gives you visibility and insights for the following common use cases:

  • Application-level visibility from the edge to the data center virtual and multi-cloud environments
  • Support for encrypted applications
  • A complete picture of what applications are running on the network
  • Numerous predefined application fingerprints with the ability to create custom-fingerprints for special applications
  • Real-time and historical reports for fine-tuning performance and security
  • Granular application and network performance insights to shorten IT troubleshooting

Figure 1: Example of a dashboard showing client count, as well as network and application response times that helped a school district IT administrator quickly find the root cause of a slow performing application


3. Save Cost By Running Analytics Across Your Distributed Organization

When you manage distributed organizations, such as a school district, a retailer or an enterprise, you need to be able to run analytics in an economical way across the entire organization. It’s best when the tool is based on application telemetry that uses the same analytics sensor installed in one central location for overall visibility; instead of installing sensors throughout different locations, which becomes costly.

4. Get a 360º View of Network Users

Most cybersecurity issues start at the edge, where people and devices access your network. The best analytics tools correlate network access data directly with the telemetry data. This gives you a fine-grained understanding of user name, authentication type, device health, activities, registration, location, etc.

Figure 2: Example of a dashboard giving a 360º view of a user


5. Perform Flow Forensics Easily

If you see a data flow coming across your network that you consider suspect, you need to quickly capture it before it disappears and then analyze it more carefully. You want an analytics tool that offers this type of capability built-in, to eliminate the need for a dedicated packet broker or packet recorder.

Make sure this feature comes with the analytics tool you purchase; most vendors sell it for an additional price.

6. Filter Flows Based on Source or Destination Country

To strengthen the security posture of your network, it is critical that you can observe the locations data flows originate from and where they are going. If you notice that the response of your network is very slow, you can check where the majority of the traffic it is coming from. One of our customers experienced a network slowdown and then observed heavy traffic coming from a country where they didn’t have any customers. They soon realized it was a DoS attack.

7. Visibility into Encrypted Applications

One of the most common questions we get is: How do you deal with encrypted traffic? This is very relevant since so much traffic is encrypted today. The best tools can analyze encrypted data flows without using private keys.

8. Visibility Reaching into Virtual Environments and Multi-Cloud

Since managing a heterogeneous network is time-consuming and error-prone, you need an analytics tool that covers your entire network from the edge to the data center and into virtual and multi-cloud environments.

Putting It All Together

In summary, you need an analytics tool that is built to align with your autonomous network and simplifies your IT work and life in the following key areas:

Security and Forensics

  • Full view of application flows between VMs and to cloud instances (e.g. AWS, GCP, MS Azure)
  • Tight integration with access control so the analytics data can be further enhanced with added context, such as user name, device type, VM/cloud instance name, data center location, cloud region
  • Integrated easy-to-use packet capture that enables you to detect and analyze data flows that look suspicious
  • Automated security and access policies consistent throughout the campus network to the data center and multi-cloud

Figure 3: Example of a dashboard that shows performance baselines that can be configured for alerts

Application Performance

  • In-depth visibility into devices accessing enterprise applications from the edge to the data center with application performance indicators
  • Baseline performance as workloads move from data center to cloud
  • Automated alerts when application performance drops beyond the baseline

So, What Are You Doing with Your Extra Time?

Have you dreamed up what you can do with all the extra time saved with an analytics tool that gives in-depth visibility and insights across the entire network?

At Extreme we have helped numerous customers make that dream true with our integrated suite of networking applications, the Extreme Management Center. Additionally, why don’t you check out the brief demo from Networking Field Day 2019 that shows how ExtremeAnalytics can help you enjoy life more? ExtremeAnalytics is tightly integrated with our other networking applications, to provide one single pane of glass for your entire network.

Additional Resources:

This blog was originally authored by Bettina Baumgart, Senior Manager of Product Marketing.

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