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Key Criteria for Evaluating Network Observability Solutionsv2.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Network Observability Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Metrics
  6. Key Criteria: Impact Analysis
  7. Analyst’s Take
  8. About Andrew Green

1. Summary

Network observability is a category of platforms and tools that go beyond device-centric network monitoring to provide truly relevant, end-to-end visibility into and intelligence about all traffic traveling across your network. They provide comprehensive visibility whether your network infrastructure spans on-premises, clouds, or extends 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), artificial intelligence 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 to them and limited interoperability among systems, network operations teams historically have had to carry out manual processes for conducting root cause analysis (RCA), exporting data into spreadsheets for visualization, and manually checking for performance degradations and correlations.

This process became even more complex as enterprises underwent cloud transformations—the most significant change in network infrastructure throughout the past decade. We have migrated away from on-premises environments with a few devices hosted in co-location data centers to complex, hybrid-cloud environments. Not only do network observability tools need to monitor physical links and devices, they must also monitor virtual networking constructs and networking infrastructure delivered and managed by third-party suppliers.

Observability helps us deal with multiple environments, giving us a high-level view of the network while picking up relevant details to extract actionable insights. Compared to network performance monitoring, it 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. They can instead 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 drivers and provide insight directly to all stakeholders, not just technical staff.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.