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With the rise of cloud computing, applications have never been more distributed. However, the network relied on to access those applications is simply not able to meet the performance levels those applications require.

A survey of 160 networking and IT professionals conducted by Sirkin Research on behalf of LiveAction, a provider of network performance monitoring tools, finds that 45 percent of respondents consider improving application performance across the entire network to be their highest troubleshooting priority in 2019.

The survey also shows that 42 percent of those respondents admit having difficulty troubleshooting across the entire networking environment. Another 35 percent have poor visibility across the network and lack end-to-end performance monitoring tools. Nearly half of the respondents (45 percent) said their top performance goal for 2019 is to improve application performance, while the top business goal is to increase agility of the network operation team (34 percent).

Despite these issues, investments in networking infrastructure are moving ahead. Top networking projects include deploying new switches (37 percent), expanding cloud infrastructure (36 percent), expanding WiFi (34 percent), deploying software-defined wide area networks, or SD-WANs (29 percent), and expanding edge computing (21 percent).

Networking issues impact everything

Networking impacts everything from the performance of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications such as Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce, to backup and recovery tools that replicate data into the cloud. It’s now apparent that most organizations have moved ahead with a variety of application projects without considering the implications networking would have on the overall application experience. To compensate for this issue, organizations are investing in everything from faster switches to SD-WANs that reduce the amount to traffic being backhauled from a remote office to a local data center.

That transition creates two opportunities for managed service providers (MSPs). The first is simply providing the expertise required to make the transition to new networking platforms. The second is to provide the network monitoring capabilities that so many organizations clearly lack.

Many organizations are throwing hardware at their network performance problems, but that’s only a temporary solution. In much the same way the widening of a highway only generates more traffic, additional bandwidth encourages the deployment of more applications. Network performance issues will only become more challenging as more applications share a larger network pipe. Whether it’s a modern software-defined switch or a next-generation WiFi 6 platform, there is still no easy button when it comes to networking.

Savvy MSPs view every network upgrade as an opportunity to sell additional network performance monitoring services. Most customers still remember how much of a challenge troubleshooting the legacy network was for them, so an offering that provides that capability as a service is especially appealing. They may still want to have access to the console to troubleshoot the network on their own, but the setting up and tuning of the network performance monitoring tools is almost always going to be left to the MSP.

The network has always been the weakest link in IT. The more distributed the IT environment becomes, the more probable it is that link will break. MSPs that enable IT teams to making certain the network is always running at optimal levels will always be valued above all others.

Photo:  YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock.

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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