Networking / September 10, 2019

Application Awareness Is Changing Networking Forever, Part 1

As organizations of all sizes move to a digital model, applications become the key building blocks of that transformation. These applications are no longer just packaged applications that touch a few hundred people and run within an organization’s firewall or on a VPN. Increasingly, organizations need to engage tens or hundreds of thousands of customers, suppliers, business partners and employees anywhere, at any time and on any device.

Smart organizations are doing this using a mix of on-premises, virtual and cloud applications. As these organizations scale out their operations, this leads to an explosion in the sheer number of apps being used as well as the complexity of deployment architectures, creating a need for wide and deep insights into these applications.

That’s why Gigamon has introduced our Application Intelligence solution, a suite of integrated products that provide the visibility and intelligence to make your network — and therefore your organization — truly application aware.

In Part One of this blog, I’ll talk about the “why” of application awareness and discuss the first of our Application Intelligence products, Application Visualization. Part Two will discuss our Gigamon Application Filtering and Application Metadata products and how you can start the process of making your organization application aware.

Not All Technology Disruptions Are Revolutions

Some technology disruptions — like the move to mobile devices — are revolutionary and seem to happen almost overnight. Other disruptions start quietly and gain momentum like a freight train until one day we realize that they are inevitable and that we need to get on board or risk getting left behind.

At Gigamon, we believe that the industry is in the midst of a major networking disruption — application awareness has moved from being an interesting concept to a business necessity. Let’s look at the business, networking and security benefits that Gigamon Application Intelligence delivers, and how it can make your organization application aware.

Application Visualization — Going Wide

The first step in application-aware networking is to identify what applications are running on the network and present this information in an easily understood, visual form. Analyzing our own network at Gigamon, we see more than 500 unique applications active at any given time, and, with less than 1,000 employees, we’re just a medium-sized company. Larger organizations run several thousand applications, so it’s easy to understand why most enterprise CIOs can’t answer the apparently simple question, “What applications are we running on our network?”

“Can’t we already see what apps are running using port mapping?” you may be thinking. The answer is no. Our experience of looking at customer dashboards that use this approach is that these dashboards will mostly be dark and the vast majority of network traffic will just show up as “Application Unknown.”

From a security perspective, the need for wide and deep application visibility is an acute issue. Here’s an example that shows why: A large enterprise customer who operates a highly secure environment asked us to catalog the apps running on their network. Our sales engineer turned on the Application Visualization license, connected to the customer’s Gigamon appliances and pulled up the dashboard on his laptop. He looked at the applications list and saw BitTorrent was running in this highly controlled environment. He brought this to the attention of the customer, who (naturally) strenuously denied that BitTorrent was on their network until they saw it with their own eyes. Needless to say, BitTorrent is no longer on their network!

That’s it for Part One of this two-part blog. Look for Part 2 on Thursday, September 12, when I’ll discuss our Gigamon Application Filtering and Application Metadata products and, more importantly, how you can start the process of making your network — and organization — application aware.

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