The network holds the key to rapid troubleshooting IT issues affecting end user experience

As we head into the last quarter of 2016, it would appear the theme is “to rethink the network.”

Days after Riverbed Technology, Inc. announced its updates to its family of application performance monitoring (APM) tools with a software-defined networking (SDN) slant, ExtraHop is also challenging IT leaders to the rethink the network with the latest update to its platform.

Isaac Roybal, the company’s director of product marketing, said ExtraHop 6.0 delivers top-down workflow that enables IT teams to from real-time performance metrics to associated packets in five clicks or less. “It’s really focused on end-user digital experience.” He said a good example of a poor end user experience caused by a failure of digital interactions and transactions in an IT environment is the recent Delta Air Lines outage: ultimately, people couldn’t travel. “It affected people’s lives.”

Roybal said ExtraHop doesn’t see itself as just an APM or network performance monitoring (NPM) company, nor does it rely on agents or log aggregation to gather information. ExtraHop is built based on an agentless deployment model, eliminating the challenges of installing and managing individual agents on every device on every server, machine, device, or other assets in an IT environment. Instead, it uses wire data, which encompasses network, client, application, infrastructure, security, and business data. “Agents are not the only way to get visibility. We can actually see all of the way down to the application level,” he said. “We don’t stop at the network level.”

Research released earlier this year by Gartner predicts that wire data will become increasingly important as a means to future proof availability and performance management, acting as a source of information and a springboard for analysis of the entire IT infrastructure and application portfolio in production, not just the network.

One of the biggest challenges ExtraHop has seen is that many organizations still view the network as transport only, rather than a source of useful insights, he said. “There’s lots of value hiding in plain sight.” For ExtraHop, rethinking the network in part means achieving the Holy Grail of merging APM and NPM.

As key aspect of the ExtraHop platform, said Roybal, is that it taps network switches to ingest all data in motion to not only gather content, but the context of what is going on. ExtraHop 6.0 builds on that approach with new capabilities, including a “transaction to packet correlation” that allows users to search and download packets linked to a specific device, application, or transaction record.

Another new capability in ExtraHop 6.0 is “continuous packet capture at a sustained 10Gbps” to support the five clicks or less goal of getting to the bottom of an IT issue, said Roybal, which the company sees as the key metric for effective performance monitoring and management, as it accelerates debugging, forensics, evidence, and data retention.

He said the “crown jewel” of the updated platform is the top-down workflow function, and while the application is still king, ExtraHop sees the transaction as the queen. “If the application is not transacting, it might as well be a dead app.”

Roybal said organizations need to start thinking of the network as the ultimate first class data source. “Everything transacts on the network.”

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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