GigaOm Key Criteria for Evaluating Network Observability Solutionsv4.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision-Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Network Observability Sector Brief
  3. Decision Criteria Analysis
  4. Analyst’s Outlook
  5. About Andrew Green

1. Executive Summary

Network observability is a category of tools that goes beyond device-centric network monitoring to provide truly relevant, end-to-end visibility into and intelligence about all traffic traveling across your network. These tools provide comprehensive visibility whether your network infrastructure is on-premises, in the cloud, or anywhere else.

Network observability is a next-generation technology that stems from traditional monitoring and management. Instead of revolutionizing traditional network monitoring, network observability focuses on incremental developments and maturity. Leveraging developments from other areas of technology—such as machine learning (ML), AI operations (AIOps), and infrastructure as code (IaC)—network observability moves toward an automated and intelligent way of maintaining high-performance and low-cost network operations.

Between a lack of actionable insights available and limited interoperability among systems, network operations teams historically have had to conduct manual processes for root cause analysis (RCA), exporting data into spreadsheets for visualization, and checking for performance degradations and correlations.

These manual processes became even more complex as enterprises underwent cloud transformations—the most significant change to network infrastructure in the past decade. Organizations have migrated away from on-premises environments with a few devices hosted in co-location data centers to complex hybrid cloud environments. Network observability tools must monitor physical links and devices as well as virtual networking constructs and networking infrastructure delivered and managed by third-party suppliers.

Observability helps teams better deal with multiple environments, providing a high-level view of the network while picking up relevant details to extract actionable insights. Compared to network performance monitoring, network observability offers value from two perspectives:

  • Better use of IT resources: When the network can answer questions about itself, IT professionals no longer have to hunt for the right information, generate reports, or perform manual troubleshooting. Instead, they can leverage their skills and talents toward proactive decision-making and other higher-value activities.
  • Business-oriented IT results: Efficient monitoring and management can improve network optimization and ensure consistent network performance by enabling capacity planning, reducing mean time to recovery (MTTR), enabling RCA, and automating troubleshooting. Truly comprehensive observability can tie all of these results back to business objectives and provide meaningful insight directly to all stakeholders, not just technical staff.

Business Imperative
Modern network observability tools are indispensable for all businesses, regardless of whether these organizations own and manage their own networks. Even cloud-native startups can benefit from network observability tools because the domain-specific features can offer insights that other cloud-native tools cannot.

Sector Adoption Score
To help executives and decision-makers assess the potential impact and value of a network observability solution deployment to the business, this GigaOm Key Criteria report provides a structured assessment of the sector across five factors: benefit, maturity, urgency, impact, and effort. By scoring each factor based on how strongly it compels or deters adoption of a network observability solution, we provide an overall Sector Adoption Score (Figure 1) of 4.2 out of 5, with 5 indicating the strongest possible recommendation to adopt. This indicates that a network observability solution is a credible candidate for deployment and worthy of thoughtful consideration.

The factors contributing to the Sector Adoption Score for network observability are explained in more detail in the Sector Brief section that follows.

Key Criteria for Network Observability Solutions

Sector Adoption Score







Figure 1. Sector Adoption Score for Network Observability

This is the fourth year that GigaOm has reported on the network observability space in the context of our Key Criteria and Radar reports. This report builds on our previous analysis and considers how the market has evolved over the last year.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report highlights the capabilities (table stakes, key features, and emerging features) and nonfunctional requirements (business criteria) for selecting an effective network observability solution. The companion GigaOm Radar report identifies vendors and products that excel in those decision criteria. Together, these reports provide an overview of the market, identify leading network observability offerings, and help decision-makers evaluate these solutions so they can make a more informed investment decision.


The GigaOm Key Criteria report provides a detailed decision framework for IT and executive leadership assessing enterprise technologies. Each report defines relevant functional and nonfunctional aspects of solutions in a sector. The Key Criteria report informs the GigaOm Radar report, which provides a forward-looking assessment of vendor solutions in the sector.

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