Observability has become far more popular due to the increased use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and the cloud. It represents a shift toward a more holistic view of the network.
- What is Network Observability?
- Network Observability vs. Monitoring
- How to Choose a Network Observability Tool
- New Relic
- PRTG Network Monitor
What is Network Observability?
Network observability refers to the ability to use diverse sources of data to gain insight into the internal happenings of a network and how business objectives and user experience are impacted by internal network states.
Observability is simply being able to quickly and easily answer any questions about one’s network. Network observability can offer value such as lower mean time to resolution (MTTR) and improved productivity of teams.
Also see: Best Cloud Networking Solutions
Network Observability vs. Monitoring
Network observability enables organizations to manage the performance and reliability of infrastructure and applications by providing an understanding of the internal states of networks. The importance of network observability continues to rise as network architectures and configurations are rapidly becoming more complex. An observable network means that IT teams can easily understand the comprehensive picture of how services and experiences are impacted by the network.
On the other hand, monitoring means collecting metrics such as NetFlow or packet data to track the network health of devices. Network monitoring answers particular questions about the performance of certain devices.
With the increasing complexity of networks, monitoring struggles to keep track of different network segments such as SaaS and cloud environments. Network monitoring and observability, however, are interlinked and should be used together to optimize network monitoring results.
Also see: Best Network Management Solutions
How to Choose a Network Observability Tool
The ideal network observability tool will be dependent on your use case, the features that you require, and your budget. Beyond these three considerations, you may consider:
- Technical Support: An observability tool that provides exceptional and timely technical support to aid an organization and its engineers when they experience issues.
- User Experience: The ease of deployment and management is characteristic of a good observability tool. The tool should also have an intuitive user interface and support the technical levels of your teams. Its notifications and alerts should also be effective and timely to ensure the right users are notified of the correct events.
- Integration: The correct observability tool should support and be integrable with the tools you use to manage your infrastructure and applications.
Also see: Top Managed Service Providers
Top Network Observability Tools
Datadog is an observability platform that places a focus on connectivity and collaboration. It offers network monitoring, traditional application performance monitoring, synthetic monitoring and more.
The platform combines automatic scaling and deployment with tools that integrate machine learning to improve the reliability of insights into infrastructure and applications. Datadog provides end-to-end visibility into cloud and on-premises networks, which involves application layer performance as well as the health of bare-metal appliances.
- Real-Time Network Insights: Datadog enables users to use network traffic visualizations across applications, availability zones, containers, and data centers to optimize their migrations. Users can also track key metrics and monitor traffic health between any pair of endpoints at the IP address, port, application, and PID layers.
- Deep DNS Visibility: With Datadog, organizations can analyze DNS (Domain Name System) performance across their systems without having to SSH into individual machines. They also get a distinction between server-side failures and client-side errors.
- Monitoring Connections to Cloud Services: Users can not only observe but also analyze traffic to managed cloud services like Amazon S3, Amazon ELB, and BigQuery. They can also pivot to integration metrics to determine whether an issue originates from their systems or a cloud provider.
Con: In addition to a learning curve for non-technical users, Datadog’s features in free pricing tiers are limited.
Dynatrace puts intelligent observability at the fingertips of its users through contextual information, automation and artificial intelligence (AI). The platform enables users to deal with blind spots and swiftly resolve issues.
Dynatrace handles network monitoring at the process level to provide detailed metrics on process-to-process communications. With support for more than 600 third-party technologies, Dynatrace is created with open standards that empower organizations to extend the platform through the use of the Dynatrace APIs (application programming interfaces), SDKs (software development kits), or plugins.
- Causation-Based AI: Unlike traditional monitoring tools, Dynatrace leverages AI and automates anomaly root cause analysis to go beyond the offering of just dashboard visualizations that force manual root case analysis.
- Overview of Virtualized Network Infrastructure: Dynatrace provides an extensive overview of users’ virtualized network infrastructure and recognizes infrastructural changes within user environments to automatically monitor new machines and network interfaces.
- High-Quality Process Communications Over Networks: With Dynatrace, users can see the quality and performance of the entirety of the network connections between the processes in their environments such as data centers and virtualized cloud environments.
Con: Implementing Dynatrace can be complex and frustrating due to the learning curve involved.
New Relic stands not only as one of the largest but also as one of the most comprehensive cloud-based observability platforms. It is open, programmable, and connected to offers to assist teams to visualize and grasp everything that is required to deliver high-quality software. New Relic is described by capabilities such as a telemetry data platform, full stack observability, and applied intelligence.
- Correlated View: With New Relic, users can analyze all of their networks, infrastructures, applications, and digital experiences on one platform. Users can speedily harness the power of the New Relic platform to swiftly fix and correlate issues across their whole stack.
- Root Cause Analysis: New Relic hands users the power to analyze their network performance data to speedily understand the root causes of network problems. If the problems go beyond the network, New Relic ensures users place the correct resources on the task, at the correct layer of their tech stack.
- AI Anomaly Detection: The golden signals of a network are used to automatically discover anomalies before they evolve into problems. Users are alerted when system performance begins to degrade to enable them to act proactively, whether involving the network or not.
Con: The interface can be clunky in addition to presenting a learning curve to new users.
AppDynamics Business Observability Platform gives enterprises the ability to see, understand, and optimize their back-end operations to fast-track their growth. As a full-stack observability solution, AppDynamics provides a comprehensive set of tools to help its clients obtain insight into their infrastructure.
AppDynamics provides total visibility over the internet, virtual workforces, and global third-party services. Combined with ThousandEyes, AppDynamics delivers full observability of networks where its clients’ businesses are.
- Full-Stack Observability: ThousandEyes Intelligence in the AppDynamics Dash Studio delivers network and internet performance metrics. It also swiftly isolates application issues from underlying network disruptions through a proactive view of the whole application delivery chain.
- Collaboration Across Networks or Applications: AppDynamics enables users to collaborate across both applications and their networks and simplify reporting across their NetOps, SRE (site reliability engineering), and AppOps teams. This ensures these teams enjoy the widest possible support.
- Triaging and Escalation of Issues. AppDynamics allows IT operations to triage and escalate issues to the correct teams and switch between network and application to quickly identify the root cause.
- SaaS Monitoring. Users can monitor hop-by-hop network performance visibility from user devices, branch offices, and data centers for rapid and efficient problem-solving.
Con: Complex installation experience.
LogicMonitor offers visibility into networks, servers, applications, and other parts of infrastructure as a SaaS-based observability platform. Through a single pane of glass, the platform enables users to optimize and monitor the entire tech stack including networks and physical networking gear, on-premises and cloud-based servers, and more. LogicMonitor also provides strong alerting and dynamic thresholds and provides anomaly detection capabilities.
- LM Envision: LM Envision detects network problems proactively and offers solutions to these problems through a comparison of live performance against and a predicted performance baseline.
- Auto-Generated Topology Mapping: LogicMonitor enables users to discover and map the relationships between vital infrastructure resources as well as generate topology maps based on alerts to streamline troubleshooting workflows and expose the root causes of issues with a network performance impact.
- Network Coverage: LogicMonitor monitors firewalls, wireless devices, switches, routers, load balancers, and supports SD-WAN and cloud-based networks. The tool also performs automatic setup and configuration with dynamic network device discovery.
- Lightweight Agentless Collector: LogicMonitor delivers a lightweight agentless collector that automatically discovers everything a user needs to know about their networks.
Cons: Alerting capabilities create a learning curve for new users.
PRTG Network Monitor
PRTG Network Monitor is a real-time unified infrastructure monitoring tool that empowers IT teams to identify issues across their entire networks and address them before they escalate to a business-critical status.
PRTG utilizes SSH (Secure Shell), HTTP requests, flows and packet sniffing, REST APIs, and other technologies to monitor all devices, systems, traffic, and applications of an organization’s IT infrastructure. The tool is an observability solution suite that enables large enterprises and SMBs (small and medium businesses) to have fast, responsive, and reliable networks.
- Distributed Monitoring: PRTG gives its users the ability to monitor multiple networks in different locations as well as separate networks within their organizations using PRTG Remote Probes.
- Maps and Dashboards: With PRTG, customers can visualize their networks through real-time maps with live status information. The PRTG map designer gives users the tools to create dashboards and integrate their network components.
- Flexible Alerting: PRTG has more than 10 built-in technologies like email and push to make sure users remain alert regardless of the device of use. They can also take full advantage of the PRTG API to write their own notifications.
Con: The complexity of PRTG’s dashboard makes it less user-friendly.