Networking / May 14, 2019

Understanding What Network Visibility Means from Its Pioneering Experts

Visibility. Consult any dictionary and you’ll see a variety of meanings with the majority being focused on the capability to see across a wide and uninterrupted environment or landscape. Applying that same visibility definition within the IT world, and the word quickly develops a multitude of nuances and complexities.

It’s impossible to look at today’s marketing materials or press coverage without seeing the word visibility liberally associated with a whole range of technology, systems and solutions relating to infrastructure monitoring.

I’ve seen a number of security, application, network and cloud tool vendors start to use the word visibility in an attempt to define their value, which unfortunately diminishes the powerful and valuable capability of infrastructure visibility.

While many of the companies may have a single-pane-of-glass portal to display information (and hence self-validate their use of the visibility term), I would suggest that they are providing the results of some form of analysis rather than true visibility.

Infrastructure Monitoring Example

To help explain my point, I’ll use an analogy — the world of air traffic control (ATC). A controller sits in front of various displays continuously watching aircraft movements through and within the airspace. Every aircraft is being watched, every path ahead being considered and every risk being evaluated.

As aircrafts traverse through airspace and, as a result, move between controllers or control centers, there is a handoff of the plane between two controllers with associated height, speed and direction details provide during that process.

One could certainly get an understanding (a form of visibility) of the volume and general activities of the whole airspace by watching the handoff information, but true visibility is through the eyes of the controller, not the extract of information provided during handoff.

With that in mind, let’s take that ATC approach into the world of infrastructure. At Gigamon our belief has always been, and will always be, that the quality and accuracy of infrastructure visibility is a direct function of the ability to have the aircraft-controller-like line-of-sight into everything traversing the environment.

As vendors move further away from the raw information of the network packet, their value rapidly diminishes as they:

  • Lack the pervasive coverage across the whole environment
  • Attempt to draw conclusions from a partial picture, and
  • Easily signal incorrect facts as they lack context

The airline industry continues to navigate its way through a perpetual digital transformation as the volume of air traffic increases and the technology used to track it continues to improve. The same can be said for the enterprise world of infrastructure monitoring as the volume of digital applications on the network increases daily and the tools to manage them evolve to handle the increased demands. At the end of the day, the desired outcome is the same: to deliver a consistent and secure customer experience.

We believe that the network is the single source of truth because our visibility solutions see every movement within the network. This is crucial because you can’t afford to miss that one command-and-control packet within the huge volume of traffic that is traversing your infrastructure; you must quickly decide if that piece of information has higher value than another and in doing so ensure that the visibility is amplified by being focused on the most meaningful, most concerning or most valuable traffic. I’m an ex-CIO and when I was running a Net/Sec function I would have killed for the comprehensive visibility Gigamon now provides.

I had the pleasure of being part of the emergence of the web, the transformation of the end-user device and the early days of the cloud, but for all CIO/CISOs of today those inflections in our world pale to insignificance compared to the speed and impact of the digital transformation that is ahead.

The time horizon for change is down to weeks from years and the threat to every business is now the competition of tomorrow you don’t see coming. We all rode the VHS wave of Blockbuster, and we all saw it die through its inability to digitally transform; we saw Kodak go the same way when only a few years ago they had near control of the 35mm market (and many other image sizes as well).

Where We Go From Here

Today’s critical challenge is to support the digital transformation of your business. To do that you will need the most powerful solution on the market for full Layer 7 (a.k.a. application layer) visibility across your architecture. Only with this true visibility can you optimize the performance of your business, allowing it to run fast and stay secure.

So, you may be wondering where my perspective on this comes from. Simply, at Gigamon we have been pioneers in the infrastructure visibility market since 2004 and remain focused there. We became the market leaders, and we’ve stayed there.

You can’t see everything with the naked eye, but your visibility infrastructure can — give us a call.

And be sure to check back in with us on Tuesday, May 21: Some exciting news is coming!

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