Network mapping trends have changed significantly in recent years. While the basics remain the same — the discovery and visualization of physical and virtual network connectivity to create a network map—the shifting sands of the IT and networking landscapes have had an impact on this evolving marketplace.
Among the many vectors affecting the space, Datamation.com isolated the five trends in network mapping:
According to Mike Haugh, VP of product marketing at Gluware, a major trend is the increasing requirement for auto-generation of accurate network topology mapping documentation for auditing and support. The reasoning is simple. Network mapping and discovery and the setting up of monitoring profiles for discovered devices are time-consuming tasks. When you factor in the complexity of monitoring modern-day IT infrastructures, network administrators can struggle to identify, classify, and monitor their networks. Thus, automation of laborious tasks, such as discovery and mapping, has become essential. IT workflow automation, too, is being incorporated more and more into mapping tools to help IT design and automate workflows. Such workflows help to start, stop, or resume services and processes.
“Many network diagrams are created manually based on the current network topology,” Haugh said. “The issue is that frequent changes are occurring, and manual diagrams are quickly out of date.
“Network management products that can discover the network topology and auto-generate the required documentation will be significantly faster, more accurate, and enable organizations to remain compliant with third-party regulatory requirements.”
2. Troubleshooting Acceleration
The requirement for network mapping to accelerate troubleshooting is another key trend. Networking issues, including outages and degraded conditions, are often met with engineers jumping in reactively and going device by device using command-line-interface (CLI) low-level commands to troubleshoot issues and diagnose problems. This is labor intensive and time consuming.
“Network mapping/topology solutions that offer integrated troubleshooting and correlation of data (hardware, configuration, operational state, and more) can significantly reduce the time required to identify and resolve network problems,” Haugh said. “The resolution of the issue is significantly reduced when the same platform is enabled to automate changes and/or remediate to resolve the issues.”
3. Virtualized Workloads
A major trend in network mapping relates to virtualized workloads, according to David Winikoff, VP of product management at Riverbed Aternity.
“By virtue of being containerized and orchestrated, processing tasks are becoming more dynamic — both in time (containers being spun up and down) and location (easy to move containers either nearer to where to immediate load is or where resources are available/cheaper),” Winikoff said. “This means that mapping tools need to adapt to things being more dynamic both temporally and geographically.”
4. Network Toolkit Centralization
Centralization of networking monitoring processes has been happening for some time. But recently, the trend is accelerating. Network operations, after all, are complex. The days when IT departments could utilize separate tools to map and monitor the network are disappearing. This approach is no longer efficient or cost-effective.
According to Sharon Abraham with ManageEngine, correlating data from disparate resources to capture big picture details and useful performance metrics is a tiring task prone to errors and application compatibility issues. Therefore, small point tools are being replaced by full-fledged network monitoring solutions that can easily integrate with other monitoring tools and that provide IT operations management capabilities, including configuration management and IP address management.
“A network monitoring solution that enables you to integrate with ticketing and communication solutions enhances your team’s collaboration, monitoring, and troubleshooting efforts,” Abraham said. “This helps you centralize your network monitoring processes and avoid the hassle and capability issues of deploying different independent tools.”
5. Monitoring Windows Processes
The monitoring of Windows processes has always been important. But the pervasion of platforms such as Office 365, Microsoft 265, Exchange, Teams, SharePoint, and others has raised its profile of late. Some vendors have added tools to proactively monitor the Windows processes of all the critical Windows devices in the network. Many of these processes play a critical role in network infrastructure. By ensuring the constant uptime of these processes, business disruption is minimized. According to Sandhya Saravanan, a spokesperson for Zoho, such tools should be able to:
- Acquire in-depth visibility into critical Windows processes
- Escalate crucial Windows process alerts
- Allow seamless multi-channel notifications in case of faults
- Automate monotonous Windows process tasks with workflows
- Get detailed reports on the availability and performance of the Windows processes
Without such tools, manually monitoring and managing Windows processes of all Windows servers in a network would overwhelm IT and consign it to drudgery and severe challenges in going through each and every process separately to check for potential signs of trouble.