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Key Criteria for Evaluating Network Observability Solutionsv3.0

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 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), 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 network operations teams and limited interoperability among systems, these 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 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. Network observability tools need to monitor physical links and devices, and they must also monitor virtual networking constructs and networking infrastructure delivered and managed by third-party suppliers.

Observability helps us 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, 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. 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 drivers and provide insight directly to all stakeholders, not just technical staff.

The GigaOm Key Criteria and Radar reports provide an overview of the network observability market, identify capabilities (table stakes, key criteria, and emerging technologies) and non-functional requirements (evaluation metrics) for selecting a network observability solution, and detail vendors and products that excel. These reports give prospective buyers an overview of the top vendors in this sector and help decision-makers evaluate solutions and decide where to invest.

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.