Overcoming Four Performance-Management Visibility Gaps in Co-Location Sites

Lack of visibility in co-los puts user experience and application performance in jeopardy.

2 people in datacenter reviewing information on laptop.

Data center co-location is on the upswing. According to global media and financial data and analytics firm Bloomberg, demand in the data center co-location market is set to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.7 percent between 2023 and 2030 to reach nearly $90 billion. Organizations cite lower cost of entry using co-location strategies than building their own data center as a significant reason behind this upsurge. They further report reduced expenses in the areas of data center management, ownership, and maintenance as benefits of adopting and migrating to co-location (co-lo) sites. The ability to retain control over the infrastructure choices they need without the burden of staff, cost, and management of the building, electricity, air conditioning, and other environmental responsibilities is viewed as an advantage for many IT teams.

Improved user experience, by bringing data center access closer to their employee populations and offices, has been another motivation for the move by many global companies. With hundreds of co-lo sites around the world, scalable local access is more achievable than private or on-premises alternatives. For example, public cloud providers have fewer zones and regions than co-los, and organizations with private data centers have just one, two, or a handful of locations. Faster access and lower wide-area-network (WAN) bandwidth costs may be accomplished with the co-lo approach for some organizations, not to mention how easy it is for companies with hybrid cloud environments to connect to co-los and cloud providers.

Co-lo Benefits—and Challenges

Many companies see the benefits of co-los, including scalability, infrastructure control, multiple data center sites, and lack of required efforts related to environmental aspects such as buildings, electricity, and air conditioning. However, there are still a few challenges. One specific area frequently mentioned with co-lo sites is the problems IT teams encounter troubleshooting issues experienced by employees and users. Because co-los are only one part of a complex, distributed infrastructure environment, myopic, co-lo-only tools are insufficient at pinpointing the true source of slowdowns, degradations, and outages that may impact user experiences throughout the distributed infrastructure.

Ruling out just one part of a complicated, multivendor communications path is not enough when remote offices, private data centers, cloud vendors, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) vendors as well as hundreds of different applications are involved. Simply put, lack of visibility in the co-los puts user experience and application performance in jeopardy. IT organizations need network and application performance monitoring throughout the entire ecosystem to effectively reduce troubleshooting time when problems occur.

Overcoming 4 Visibility Gaps in Co-lo Environments

Think about the private data center your organization has maintained for years. You’ve likely used some type of network monitoring or management tools to ensure the performance and availability of that overall network—from the data center, across the WAN, and to your remote offices.

Now, as IT organizations face managing performance and availability across a far more complicated private data center with co-lo sites, cloud infrastructure, and a variety of WAN connectivity alternatives, the visibility gap has never been more pronounced. NETSCOUT, with nGenius Enterprise Performance Management solutions, can help you overcome four major visibility gaps in your co-lo environment to improve performance and availability throughout your application delivery ecosystem.

  1. The network edge where it connects to either an internet, MPLS, or SD-WAN circuit. Not only is this a very costly part of the enterprise network, but it also is where application traffic is handed off from the co-lo provider to a WAN provider. Vendor-independent packet monitoring, such as nGenius Enterprise Performance Management, is extremely valuable when traffic crosses between two domains and problems emerge because it helps avoid the inefficient finger-pointing between vendors that only wastes time and is rarely helpful.
  2. High-traffic network bottleneck areas such as both sides of the firewalls, VPN concentrators, and/or load balancers. These are all additional handoff points between vendor technologies in the communications path. Misconfigurations, buggy upgrades or maintenance patches, or interoperability issues can run amok in these areas of a co-lo data center. NETSCOUT traffic visibility provides a baseline for normal performance, tracks and alerts on deviations from normal utilization and/or performance, and pinpoints errors as well as their source to help enterprises resolve problems quickly.
  3. Virtualized environments—particularly in application server farms that host business application services. VMware is one of several solutions used in co-los to provide workload and network virtualization. Problems with the performance of any of the applications that operate via the virtualized environment have the potential to disrupt employees, customers, and/or partners that use those services. NETSCOUT has collaborated with VMware to make visibility possible in virtualized environments such as NSX-T. Monitoring the east-west traffic communications in application server farms overcomes monitoring gaps and reduces troubleshooting time.
  4. Peering connections to public cloud providers where a critical handoff of business application traffic occurs. High traffic volume passing between two vendor solutions—such as between AWS Direct Connect and Azure ExpressRoute—can mean issues occur between the two domains, making visibility instrumental for pinpointing the source of disruptions and improving mean time to knowledge (MTTK). As before, data provided by point-only tools from the different vendors only serves to rule out one area, while the problems frequently persist. Vendor-independent, packet-based analysis provides the best source of visibility and is available throughout the infrastructure for troubleshooting and minimizing the mean time to resolution (MTTR) of complex problems.

NETSCOUT can help organizations determine the most effective ways to overcome visibility gaps in co-location data centers by using the nGenius Enterprise Performance Management solution with InfiniStreamNG and vSTREAM virtual appliances. Visibility throughout the entire enterprise infrastructure ecosystem helps IT teams improve MTTK with information on the root cause of performance and degradation problems that have a dramatic impact on reducing MTTR. Learn more about how one enterprise overcame its co-lo and AWS cloud visibility gaps.

Learn more about how one enterprise overcame its co-lo and AWS cloud visibility gaps.