A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Chris MacFarland, CEO of SD-WAN and SASE provider, Masergy. While we talked about the importance of having a robust set of SASE security services and a strong network to power its SD-WAN, a big part of the conversation was around the importance of AIOps. There’s no question that the evolution to SD-WAN and SASE are critical for digital organizations as these technologies align the network better with digital trends such as cloud, mobility and IoT.
However, the shift in the network to a more agile, software-driven approach does raise the complexity bar. Legacy networks had a very simple architecture – the hub and spoke – where branch offices were connected to a central location. In the “hub,” one would find all the necessary security capabilities, management tools and other functions. With SD-WAN and SASE, all of those centralized functions are distributed making management a headache, and this leads to higher amounts of errors leading to downtime.
Unplanned downtime is the silent killer of productivity
Unplanned network downtime is costly and disruptive to business, with manual processes and human error cited as the leading causes of downtime for organizations of all sizes. In fact, my research has found that humans account for nearly a third of all unplanned downtime in networks today. Masergy has bolstered its AIOps platform with new enhancements to combat this.
Masergy has embedded AIOps directly into network, security and application layers and combined this with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to help IT teams improve cloud app performance on global networks. The enhanced AIOps platform directly accesses data from a wide variety of sources, including traffic flows, application data and log files to make proactive, intelligent recommendations to quickly remediate problems or avoid them all together.
AIOps obviates the need for manual processes
AIOps can analyze how much bandwidth is being used by evaluating patterns of past bandwidth consumption. Then, it makes predictions based on the patterns and trending information and provides IT teams with setting recommendations that utilize bandwidth more efficiently. AIOps also observes application service quality and identifies the cause, so IT teams can troubleshoot and manage issues faster.
While some engineers still may fear AI as a threat to their jobs, in reality Masergy AIOps is an AI-powered virtual engineer that continuously monitors the performance of critical apps using ML algorithms. The virtual engineer is always watching every flow and can see things when humans can’t. The Masergy solution is built on its network and security data logs that have been collected during the past 20 years to pinpoint issues before they become problems.
Masergy AIOps can see things humans can’t
What makes AIOps valuable is its ability to assess bandwidth usage patterns, identify anomalies and predict outages within a fully managed service. AIOps is designed specifically for a software-defined network (SD-WAN) and secure access service edge (SASE) implementations, since it’s embedded in the application layer of Masergy’s SD-WAN. While one might have been able to automate some tasks on legacy networks, it’s the shift to software-defined that makes AI and partial or even full automation possible.
SD-WAN paved the way for network convergence, with SASE further blending elements of SD-WAN and network security into a single cloud-based service. As more organizations adopt SD-WANs, and ultimately SASE, they will need technologies that can meet their growing needs without deploying multiple disparate security and network solutions.
In a pre-briefing with Masergy, it highlighted a number of features and related business benefits:
- Rapid application troubleshooting and management: My research has found that 90% of the time taken to solve problems is in identifying the source. Masergy AIOps observes application service quality and provides insights that can accelerate the process of identifying the root cause of performance problems.
- Better informed decisions around resource allocation: Capacity planning and resource allocation is often the best guess for even the most seasoned engineers. If Spock is on your network team, congrats, you can probably rest easy. Given Vulcan won’t join the federation any time soon, Masergy AIOps is the next best thing as it observes application trends around bandwidth consumption and aids IT pros in managing application policies as well as helping to forecast bandwidth and network capacity requirements.
- Proactively avoid application problems and performance degradation: Masergy AIOps evaluates historic patterns of bandwidth consumption, providing predictions, proactive recommendations, and real-time alerts on application bandwidth utilization.
Masergy first launched AIOps in late 2019, making it the industry’s first AI-based digital assistant for managing and optimizing the WAN. AIOps now comes as a built-in feature with all Masergy SD-WAN and SASE solutions. It’s customizable on a per-user basis, so organizations get and pay for only what they need.
AIOps is something all network professionals should be embracing, because it frees up valuable time and keeps application performance high. For those interested in learning more about this, I’m doing a webinar with Masergy’s VP of Innovation, Ray Watson, on April 21. Hope to “see” you there!