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The Development of NetFlow – Time to Look Again?

Over a decade ago now, KedronUK were extremely successful providing customers with one of the first complete NetFlow solutions, called NetFlow Tracker, developed by an Irish company called Crannog Software (later purchased by Fluke).
It was almost like a traffic analysis revolution, as Network Engineers were reliant on wire data Sniffer’ Packet Capture technologies, to analyse traffic flows NetFlow, although it had been around for a little while, had not really taken off.
Crannog developed a very intuitive, cost-effective, NetFlow collector and reporting solution that was extremely powerful. A customer that before had to deploy costly probes to report on the make-up of their routed traffic, could now do this centrally using the routers they already had deployed. Happy Days!
Other network device vendors followed suit and it became possible to monitor cFlow, sFlow, jFlow, and the emerged standard IPFix. Like Packet Inspection, NetFlow was, and still is, utilised for both management and security use cases.
In time SNMP and Packet-based vendors realised they were in a great position to add this functionality to their existing portfolio and this probably, in truth, started the Unified Management trail.
So, standalone NetFlow for performance, although still very much there, was slowly being replaced by tools that included it as part of their data sources. This happened with mixed results, however, with some vendors nailing it and others have some pretty obvious limitations, such as the necessity to immediately aggregate data, which seriously affected the troubleshooting use case.
From a Network management standpoint, the big difference in the early days was that NetFlow was all about accounting data – the who, what, where and when. Where customers wanted to understand how fast and how delayed – Packets were still king. The other limitation was that NetFlow was only for routed traffic (layer 3), so you still needed the Packet insight to understand your local traffic performance.
It’s safe to say that for many, taking the above into account, NetFlow has become a tick in the box when looking at a Network Management or SIEM tool, and not a primary focus.
We think that view has been changing in recent years with developments in technologies such as NBAR2, CBQoS, Flow Generation probes and improvements in the built-in intelligence within NetFlow led products to deliver AI and Anomaly Detection.
We recommend you revisit your current NetFlow capabilities and see if you’re getting everything you could from this valuable data. The previous limitations are now not always the case and we find ourselves often recommending a more powerful Flow solution to our customersfor integration via standard API’s into their existing monitoring stack.

Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like one of our experienced solution architects to audit your current solutions, and conduct a Gap Analysis, click here. 

How Mature is Your IT Ops?

KedronUK has been working in Network, Application and Service Management with some of the UK’s largest Enterprises for over 15 years, and in that time has seen many of its Customers progress through what Gartner describes as, the IT Service Assurance Maturity Model. 

Many Customers get stuck at a particular level and focus on firefighting immediate challenges, without a strategic roadmap or direction of where their investment in Monitoring is going to take them.

The result of this is multiple un-associated purchases that may answer today's problem, but require a totally new investment for tomorrows next challenge. This results in a “zoo of tools”. 

KedronUK can clearly see that many organisations are looking to advance in IT Service Assurance Maturity, but find they don’t get time to plan for this due to immediate issues. The pragmatic truth is that in order to achieve all of the short and long-term requirements, the answer does not lie in one Vendor technology or management data source.

Another fact that should be considered is that often when consulting with organisations we find that there are multiple sources of trusted information already within the business. These data sources can be integrated and utilised alongside new monitoring technology to provide an enriched and more service aligned view. 

Typical targets for this include:

·     Public Cloud Provider Data
·     Service Desk Data (ServiceNow etc)
·     Existing Domain Monitoring Tools
·     CMDB
·     Business Intelligence Data

Therefore, typically when KedronUK proposes a solution to the Customer, we look to build management platform ecosystem that will allow integration of data source that they already possess and also those that they may wish to invest in later, without any Vendor lock-in. 

This approach provides unrivaled future proofing, flexibility and effectively a Single Pane of Glass of all stakeholders which simplifies reporting and reduces incident triage time.

Application Service Management

We’ve been helping our Customers working in IT Operations to visualise and manage their key services the way they want to see them for a long time.

There are also, of course, many different definitions of service, and the one we really focus on for IT Operation Customers is; Application Service Management. You can read more about this definition in our Whitepaper by our sister Company ServiceVisual here. 

A recurring theme is that they ask us to create the infamous “Single Pane of Glass”. Where they can view the health of their key services by integrating data from multiple data sources or tools and intelligently display Service Availability.
We often find this concept needs further discussion and development with our Customer, to truly get them somewhere that the work involved in creating such views and workflows is justifiable and Operationally beneficial.
We find many Vendors talk about “Single Pane of Glass” or “Manager of Managers”, but the reality is often disappointing for end users. They seem to either end up with uncorrelated and unintelligent data “dumped” into a dashboard or a complex platform that take too long (and costs too much) to create in the first place, and often is impossible to keep up to date.

The key to doing this successfully is the perfect combination of software tech, proven workflow, and discovery and service configuration expertise.

We deliver this ability in two flavours, one of which is a fully delivered Managed Service. Feel free to get in touch or view our recent video where one of our Solution Architects explains the challenge and approach in more detail.

Reducing the Weight of Your APM Tool Bag

As KedronUK are exclusively focussed in the area of Network, Application and Business Service Performance Management, we are constantly reviewing the Market to help our Customers achieve the visibility they need, in the most operationally and cost-efficient way possible.

When it comes to Application Performance Management (APM) there are several disciplines and data source types our Clients can access. As we have discussed previously, there is usually merit in mixing perspective to get the best and most holistic view of what’s happening.

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