The Future of Network Troubleshooting
April 10, 2017

Jason Baudreau
NetBrain Technologies

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We live in an age of technology dependency and increasing complexity. As companies adopt new hardware and applications, their networks grow larger and become harder to manage. For network engineers and administrators, the continued emergence of integrated technology has forced them to reconfigure and manage networks in a more dynamic way.

When a network stops working properly or stops working altogether, network engineers are called upon to troubleshoot and fix the problem. According to the Network Instruments State of the Network Global Survey, the majority of network professionals spend more than two months per year troubleshooting network performance problems. This time spent identifying and troubleshooting problems costs companies millions of dollars every year, and perhaps of equal importance, takes valuable time away from other critical projects and updates network engineers would prefer to work on.

The Current Network Situation

The current state of the industry calls for network engineers to use command-line interface (CLI) to provide visibility into a network for troubleshooting. Greater visibility into the network not only helps engineers identify a problem, but prevents it from happening in another sector of the network as well.

With CLI, engineers issue commands to a specific device or program through command lines, or lines of text. However, a major drawback of CLI is that engineers need to work through individual devices on a network one at a time to identify and fix a potential problem, which is a time intensive and resource draining practice.

To counteract some of the drawbacks of CLI, network engineers use other tools to assist them in troubleshooting. Regardless of the tools' benefits, such as availability and specification, none of these programs provide the information, network details or insight network engineers need to effectively prevent problems in the future or work through a major outage. While the industry has always used these in-line commands with additional tools, it's time to flip the practice of troubleshooting on its head.

The Future is Now

Through leveraging a dynamic network map as the single pane of glass for troubleshooting, engineers can automate network diagnoses and collaborate more effectively. These real-time maps provide engineers with visibility into the network's underlying design and performance, without the need for CLI digging. With these maps, engineers can quickly map the problem area and launch an executable runbook to automate network analytics, if and when a problem exists on the network.

These executable runbooks provide both a troubleshooting methodology and the automation to accelerate it. This single pane of glass view into the network also provides engineers with a snapshot of the entire network, allowing them to quickly answer the question "what changed?" if an outage occurs.

By integrating a network monitoring system with an adaptive automation platform, engineers have a current and instant view of all hardware and applications on the network to quickly diagnose any problems that may arise. Juxtapose that with manually recreating the network on the back of the pizza box.

As we continue to live in a world of complex technology, it is only right we continue to equip ourselves with the proper tools and tactics to succeed. When downtime mounts, the bottom line plummets and that is simply unacceptable.

Jason Baudreau is Product Strategist, Network Innovations, NetBrain Technologies.

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