Network Performance Monitoring: Why the Cloud Calls for a New Approach

Cloud Management

Network Performance Monitoring: Why the Cloud Calls for a New Approach

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  March 08, 2017

Cloud-based network performance monitoring solutions have been in the news a lot lately, as Juniper Networks (News - Alert) recently moved to purchase AppFormix, and that company and others emphasize that the cloud calls for a new approach to NPM.

“Migration to the cloud, in its various forms, creates a fundamental shift in network traffic that traditional network performance monitoring tools fail to cover,” noted Gartner (News - Alert) in a May 2016 paper. “I&O leaders must consider cloud-centric monitoring technologies to fill visibility gaps.”

Alex Henthorn-Iwane, vice president of marketing of Kentik (News - Alert), agrees. He says that the writing’s on the wall – it’s time for appliance-based network performance solutions to go the way of the dinosaur. That’s because the appliance approach is from the pre-cloud era and assumes these network elements can sit next to a network device, and that one server or server set will be enough to do the job. But that, he says, simply isn’t the case any more.

There’s no longer a switch with a port to which these appliances can connect. There’s no longer a LAN to WAN chokepoint. And network operators need the ability to scale much more quickly than they have in the past. So, what’s needed, according to Henthorn-Iwane, is a cloud-scale infrastructure performance visibility solution.

That’s what Kentik has brought to market. This SaaS (News - Alert)-based solution assesses traffic data, routing data, and network performance data, and uses it to provide analytics and super fast and accurate DDoS prevention capabilities.

Henthorn-Iwane says the Kentik solution is appropriate for use in both enterprise and service provider networks. “If you are doing digital business in the cloud, then you should really be looking at a cloud-friendly way of doing NPM and of really protecting your overall network experience,” he adds.

The user interface, the application, and network performance are the three things that affect the customer experience, he notes. Kentik helps with the network performance part.

The company also offers an assist in terms of applications. Henthorn-Iwane says organizations with DevOps initiatives tend to like to have a feedback loop for their developers. Kentik offers APIs through which anyone in the organization can see what’s happening on the network in terms of latency, traffic spikes, and the like, he explains. That way DevOps teams can see what their applications will be up against and tune their applications to work better within the network environments in which they will exist.

“Application developers have evolved [from throwing apps over the fence to operations],” he says, “but they need the data.”

As for Juniper Networks, it announced plans late last year to buy cloud optimization platform provider AppFormix for an undisclosed sum. AppFormix sells monitoring and performance optimization solutions that deliver application-level visibility to both private and public cloud network operators with OpenStack and Kubernetes environments. Juniper indicated this machine learning technology complements its own Contrail product line by improving cloud orchestration, accounting, planning, and security.

AppFormix CEO Sumeet Singh has talked about the need for management and monitoring of the NFV fabrics that Juniper technology enables, the fact that both companies are deeply integrated with the OpenStack and Kubernetes communities, and the cultural alignment regarding fostering discovery and innovation among the companies. Prior to founding AppFormix, Singh was the principal development manager of data path and hybrid cloud network for Microsoft Azure. He’s also worked as a principal engineer of data center architecture at Cisco (News - Alert) Systems, and was the co-founder and chief scientist at NetSift, which Cisco bought.

It’s only been about a year and a half since AppFormix emerged from stealth mode and announced it had raised $7 million in a Series A round from August Capital. Since then the company has garnered many accolades and announced an alliance with RackSpace.

AppFormix was selected as the Grand Winner of the 2016 Best of Interop Awards in May, chosen as a finalist in the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium 2016 Innovation Showcase that same month, and named One of the 25 Emerging Vendors You Need to Know About in 2016 by CRN in August.

As for the RackSpace relationship, that company licenses AppFormix tools so it can provide them to its private cloud customers. RackSpace typically builds it own tools, noted TechCrunch in an April article on that partnership, but the company was so impressed with AppFormix’s team and tools that it decided to partner in this case.

Edited by Alicia Young
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