Viavi has announced significant enhancements to its Observer Platform with version 18.17. Among them are new capabilities in end-user-experience scoring, application identification and Azure traffic visibility through Network security group (NSG) flow log analysis. The enhancements are about meeting organisations’ network reliability demands.

In addition, the company launched the 15th edition of its State of the Network report (registration required). This year the two themes of the report were perseverance and resiliency. Among the areas covered were Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) and the challenge that the cloud brings to network visibility.

Chris Labac, Vice President and General Manager, Network Performance and Threat Solutions, VIAVI (Image Credit: LinkedIn)
Chris Labac, Vice President and General Manager, Network Performance and Threat Solutions, VIAVI

Chris Labac, Vice President and General Manager, Network Performance and Threat Solutions, VIAVI, said, “In partnership with our customers, we have leveled up performance and threat visibility and developed a powerful set of capabilities that provide insights where they are needed most.

“Our patented End-User Experience Scoring can now be used by virtually the entire IT team to effectively identify, prioritize, and remediate business-impacting issues. Our UC visualizations are now the best in the industry. New DPI and Azure capabilities round out a release that were thrilled to deliver. Our focus continues to be not on delivering more KPIs, but delivering more clarity, actionable information, and business value.

What is new in the Observer Platform?

According to Viavi, there are five main enhancements. All are designed to improve network reliability. They are:

  • End User Experience (EUE) Scoring Updates. Observer’s EUE analysis delivers greater insight into four domains – network, server, application and client. The new scoring makes it easier to identify the main cause of performance degradation.
  • Traffic Visibility for Azure and AWS. NSG flow log support brings Azure into line with the visibility teams have for AWS using Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Flow Logs. In particular, it resolves the problem of no packet extraction support in Azure.
  • Enhanced Application Recognition. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and Application Identification (AppID) means the Observer Platform now recognizes thousands of specific business and non-business applications natively.
  • UC Call Visualization. Viavi says Observer is now the only platform in the industry to transform both packet and flow data into intuitive, actionable visualizations that follow the journey of calls through the network infrastructure and identify the location and root cause(s) of poor UC performance.
  • Digital Certificate Analysis. Expired certificates are not only a security risk, but can lead to customers being unable to get to the website. This provides a proactive approach to prevent certificates from expiring.

The VIAVI State of the Network report

At 22 pages, the Viavi State of the Network report is not a hard read, but it is interesting. One of the key areas it calls out is how bad troubleshooting processes have become. It says, “Network pros struggle with root-cause analysis. One would think that after 30+ years, the network management industry would have figured this out by now. Unfortunately, much work remains to be done.”

That need to do better with monitoring the network is shown in other areas of the report. For example, 22% highlight problem-solving domain isolation as their biggest challenge. 19% call out monitoring bandwidth consumption, while 14% see determining underlying network health as their main challenge. None of those are going away as services move out of data centres and into the cloud.

One thing that has been highlighted in the UK Covid inquiry is the problem with unified communications. The UK Govt had too many ad hoc, unmanaged and unrecorded communication channels. It highlights the problems that commercial organisations suffer, especially when regulators demand monitoring and recording.

In addition, unified communications can be a real mess when working across platforms and with remote workers. It is no surprise, therefore, that 50% of respondents said that they spent 10-20 hours each week troubleshooting UCC issues. It suggests that there is a drastic need to simplify the number of products.

With VOIP also becoming more prevalent, almost 50% were concerned about call quality, and just over 40% had bandwidth concerns. Again, there needs to be more work done to resolve this.

Cybersecurity and encryption also issues

The report goes on to look at the problem of encryption in the network and the need to decrypt traffic. It also identifies that 60% of respondents expect bandwidth demand to grow by up to 50% over the next two years. While down from 70% in last year’s report, it is the second highest in the last decade.

Unsurprisingly, the report shows that there was no reduction in the time spent by IT teams involved in cybersecurity activities. 97% of NetOps teams and 88% of DevOps groups are involved, with 44% spending anywhere between 51% and 75% of their time every week resolving security issues.

One reason for this is that most cybersecurity issues require details from the network team. They are often required to help trace the movement of attacks throughout the network.

Enterprise Times: What does it mean?

The observability of the network has never been more important or less clear. The move from on-premises and corporate datacentres to the cloud and work from home, has made it harder to trace and understand network traffic. It means that much of the network traffic is no longer in the control of the network operations team.

Not being able to effectively trace network traffic makes problem-solving difficult. Network, application and user performance, along with security and compliance, all require visibility of the network. This is where Viavi believes it has the solution with its Observer Platform. The new additions in v18.17 will provide deeper insight into the network.

What will be interesting next year is to see if any of the numbers improve, especially around traffic visibility. What is surprising is that Viavi is not promoting its traffic visibility for Azure and AWS, along with DPI and AppID tools for security teams. Will it look to new roles for those tools going forward?


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