Network-Wide Change Management
Visibility with Route Analytics
By Packet Design
Published 2008, Posted August 2008
Change management is a hot topic, and rightly so. Studies routinely report that a significant percentage of application and service delivery problems in IP networks are caused by misconfigurations and other human errors - usually made during routine changes to the network.
Yet while a variety of change management solutions are available, they are all concerned with controlling changes from a device-centric point of view—whether or not command syntax is being typed in correctly, or whether the authorized version of OS or drivers is being applied. While extremely useful, these solutions still lack a major component: the visibility to help IT departments working with large or complex networks to easily understand precisely how the entire network—including routing and traffic flows—will behave when changes are made. Given that delivering applications with high availability and performance is the network's raison d’etre, the uncertainty involved in such routine network operations creates a significant gap in IT’s ability to meet its service-level commitments. The root of this uncertainty is primarily technological: the lack of network management tools that can maintain an accurate model of the as-running network’s routing and traffic behavior as the basis for network engineering and operations. Without this fundamental knowledge, network managers are frequently operating in the dark, making decisions based on inaccurate or missing information.
Route analytics technology bridges this gap in network management intelligence, providing IT with an always-accurate model of the as-running network's routing and traffic. Using this automatically self-maintaining model, network managers can "rewind" recorded network history to examine exactly how routing and traffic behaved at any point in the past. And they can perform highly accurate change modeling to simulate how the network would behave in the event of a future network change - planned or unplanned.
This white paper reviews the limitations to traditional change management tools and strategies, explains how route analytics works and how it can be used simulate and plan not only simple, routine maintenance change operations, but also complex network changes such as a data center migration in a large, complex enterprise network. IT departments stand to gain vastly increased visibility that increases the accuracy of change operations and reduces errors, resulting in higher and more predictable application availability and performance. Ultimately, they can also realize improved utilization of existing network assets and reduced operational costs.
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