The once-common architectural pattern of backhauling network traffic to a central data center or headquarters has been augmented due to the rise of SaaS applications. SaaS uses content distribution systems that replicate data to points of presence around the world for closer and faster access. The applications are designed to use the nearest point of presence to serve content to the end-user.
The 2022 EMA Network Management Megatrends research reveals, “it is the first year that network operations teams have recognized public cloud, SaaS applications, and cloud-native application architectures as the most critical drivers of their network management strategies.”
Organizations still have to connect and secure multiple dispersed endpoints that need access to an ever-expanding enterprise network. Everything from branch offices and mobile users to cloud platforms and SaaS applications has its own separate requirements for connectivity and security.
This is where SASE (secure access service edge) comes in. SASE can be boiled down to an architecture that identifies users, devices, and network traffic, to deliver secure access to the appropriate application or data. It typically addresses the challenge of highly distributed environments where you need to secure access to corporate resources – no matter where users or applications are located.
However, even if SASE architecture aims to provide a set of unified capabilities, the reality check is different regarding actual deployments. Contrary to expectations, many organizations still take a multi-vendor approach, whether it is to avoid vendor lock-in, select best-of-breed components, or leverage existing investments.
As a result, the modern wide area network (WAN) edge infrastructure involves multi-vendor technologies such as software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), and next-generation firewall (NGFW). This complex mix makes it difficult to monitor the infrastructure and detect misconfigurations. And this lack of visibility can quickly turn into performance issues or security breaches.
Understanding the user experience
As organizations embrace the advantages of SASE, many are facing gaps in understanding the end-user experience. Although individual components provide some degree of native monitoring, network operations are running short of options to detect and resolve the root cause of user experience degradations, especially when multiple ISPs and network device vendors are involved.
To deliver reliable edge networking, network professionals need advanced analytics capabilities to gain insights into the end-to-end performance, traffic management complexities, and hybrid WAN configuration. This can typically be referred to as Experience-Driven NetOps. With network teams already stretched thin, it becomes increasingly critical to adopt approaches that correlate user experience issues with the offending WAN edge component or carrier provider so that triage and root cause identification is completed in just a few clicks.
When IT employs continuous monitoring of every app, user, and location across the extended enterprise network, they can proactively detect network and application performance issues before they ever impact end-users. So while this will ideally help speed up mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR), it will, at the very least, accelerate mean-time-to-innocence (MTTI) when issues are blamed on the network team but are really the fault of a third party.
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