At Kentik, we’re honored to have been recognized recently as an IDC Innovator for Cloud-Based Network Monitoring. Needless to say, this call-out by analysts Nolan Greene and Rohit Mehra reflects well on what we’ve been doing to advance the state of the art in areas such as DDoS protection, infrastructure visibility, performance monitoring, and peering analytics. But I think it also speaks to the importance of the cloud to the future of IT Operations Management in general and, more specifically, network monitoring.
In the past year or so, various folks at Kentik have been blogging, podcasting, and writing articles about the need for cloud-based Network Performance Monitoring (NPM). We’ve also talked about how, in terms of moving to the cloud, IT Operations Management (ITOM) and network monitoring has generally lagged other areas of IT management such as IT Service Management (ITSM) and Application Performance Management (APM). By highlighting cloud-hosted monitoring with an IDC Innovators category, IDC lends independent analytical heft to the point we’ve been making.
IDC’s recognition of Kentik was two-fold, based not only on the fact that we’re SaaS/cloud-based (in fact, we also can deploy our big data solution on an on-premises cluster) but also on the deep capabilities of our Kentik Detect product. As stated in the research note:
“Kentik offers a SaaS-based product that allows users to collect, visualize, and analyze network traffic and performance. It is a cloud-based network visibility and analytics solution that provides a panoramic view of any network. It monitors service delivery, detects DDoS attacks, optimizes internet peering, and unleashes innovation with unbounded ad hoc traffic analysis at scale.”
In other words, it’s not simply that Kentik Detect is SaaS, but that we are able to make industry-leading capabilities available in a SaaS/cloud solution that provides a unified network view, including network traffic analysis, performance monitoring, Internet peering, and DDoS protection in a single platform. That makes Kentik Detect notably distinct from traditional appliance-based approaches.
Network engineers have multiple use cases for network data. But because appliances are low on capacity and low on compute power, vendors have had little choice but to focus their appliance models on individual use cases. Within each such use-case silo, incoming network data must be reduced to summary aggregates, with the rest of the raw data discarded regardless of its potential value in other areas.
For an organization with multiple departments — network engineering, planning, operations, and security — the appliance-based approach requires sinking resources into a jumble of siloed systems that can’t inter-communicate or share information. It’s maddening enough for engineers to have to swivel-chair between a variety of insufficient tools, but when those tools are in different departments, the barriers to solving real-world problems are enough to drive engineers crazy. As we explained to Cloud IT Week not long ago: “It’s time for appliance-based network performance solutions to go bye-bye.”
Kentik’s approach to Kentik Detect isn’t just about moving single-server code from a physical server or appliance to a VM and calling it SaaS. That’s cloud-washing, a phenomenon that should be approached with wariness. Rather, as IDC put it:
“Kentik is a 3rd Platform-oriented company, leveraging a multitenant Big Data and analytics engine that enables a range of ad hoc network traffic and performance inquiries at scale”
In case you’re not familiar with the phrase “3rd Platform,” it’s part of IDC’s forward-looking vision for IT, in which 3rd Platform is defined as business Information Technology that drives innovation and continuous change and is built on the four technology pillars of cloud, big data, mobility, and social business. One of IDC’s predictions is that 100+ “Industry Clouds” will emerge by 2020, disrupting today’s established industry market leaders. It is certainly Kentik’s ambition to build our network visibility cloud offerings in a way that will disrupt and replace the curse of legacy appliances.
So how does Kentik get around the limitations of appliances? By creating a distributed big data backend that’s purpose-built for the scale and speed of today’s network traffic. Called Kentik Data Engine (KDE), this datastore enables us to capture in real time — and keep for months without summarization — all of the details of network traffic data (flow records, BGP, GeoIP, etc.). And we can make all of that unified, time-correlated data not only easily accessible for rapid ad hoc querying but also highly useable across multiple use-case siloes. As IDC observed about the Kentik solution:
“[Kentik] insights are applicable to network architects, network engineers, network systems analysts, and security operators.”
This kind of comprehensive view isn’t possible without the scalability enabled by Kentik’s approach. As mentioned before, you can’t solve the issues of data reduction and siloes by simply virtualizing and cloud-washing old solutions. A fundamentally different architecture is required.
One of major premises of IDC’s 3rd Platform vision is that digital transformation is happening at an astonishing rate and digital business practices will soon affect everything. The rise of IoT is evidence of that, with normal/offline lifestyles becoming digitally connected. Digital business is all about delivering a positive user or customer experience, and that experience relies on three key things: UI/UX, application performance, and the network.
This brings us back to the start of this post. UI/UX is a well-known and amply addressed issue. Application (and related server) performance management has modernized and cloudified already. The laggard, in so many ways, is network management. And yet, without a great network experience — free from traffic congestion, latency, or other network performance issues, and safe from disruption by DDoS attacks — you can’t deliver a great customer experience.
By providing cloud-based, big data-powered visibility and DDoS defense without the siloes, Kentik Detect helps network teams to work collaboratively, solve problems, innovate, and deliver the optimal network experience that’s needed for digital business to succeed. Ready to see for yourself? Sign up today for a free trial, or request a demo.