New Research From EMA Defines Network Observability and Provides a Roadmap for IT Organizations to Navigate the Marketing Hype Surrounding the Term

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By combining quantitative market research with qualitative interviews with expert stakeholders, EMA has established an authoritative definition of the term “network observability”

Text: Network Observability: Delivering Actionable Insights to Network Operations research report | Logos: Broadcom, Kentik, Micro Focus, NS1, FirstWave, Riverbed, EMA

Network Observability: Delivering Actionable Insights to Network Operations research report

EMA research shows that network managers need tools that empower people with knowledge, rather than provide them good access to network data.

Enterprise Management Associates (EMA™), a leading IT and data management research and consulting firm, today announced the release of its new research report, titled “Network Observability: Delivering Actionable Insights to Network Operations” based on criteria defined by Shamus McGillicuddy, vice president of research, covering network management at EMA, and Robert Gates, senior analyst covering network management at EMA.

Every IT organization maintains several tools for monitoring and troubleshooting networks and analyzing a variety of data to understand where and why network problems are occurring. These tools are also important to network security and capacity management.

Historically, network teams refer to these tools as “network monitoring” or “network performance management.” More recently, tool vendors have started using the term “network observability” or a variation, such as “unified observability,” to market their solutions. These vendors are borrowing a concept the DevOps industry embraced to describe the tools it uses to monitor dynamic application environments. DevOps defines observability as “the process of understanding the internal state of a system by measuring its external outputs.” In the context of DevOps, these external outputs are metrics, logs, and traces. However, network teams are dealing with network infrastructure, not applications. Network observability requires its own definition.

After more than one year of conversations with vendors about network observability, EMA determined that the definition of this term is fuzzy at best. However, the emergence of network observability is notable because it signals that vendors are trying to articulate a new wave of innovation in their products.

Based on these conversations, EMA determined it was critical to define network observability for IT buyers so they and their vendors can effectively communicate with each other about emerging network operations requirements and the innovations that vendors offer to address those requirements.

EMA’s definition is based on a market survey of 402 enterprise IT stakeholders that are either responsible for their organizations’ network management tools and/or are extensive users of such tools. The survey participants were a mix of technical personnel, IT middle management, and IT executives. They worked within a variety of functional groups in IT organizations, most often in a network engineering and architecture group, a network operations center, or a CIO’s suite. Additionally, EMA interviewed nine IT professionals one on one, primarily from Fortune 500 companies, to enrich the survey data analysis with qualitative insights.

The research also reveals how network tool vendors should evolve to provide better support to IT organizations. This report will help IT buyers understand what traditional network monitoring and network performance management vendors mean when they use the term network observability. The report will also help vendors establish a product roadmap for so-called network observability solutions.

“Our research shows that network managers need tools that empower people with knowledge, rather than provide them good access to network data,” said McGillicuddy. “Network observability is essentially a network monitoring solution that collects and analyzes diverse network data with a focus on providing actionable insights into network performance, security, end-user experience, and more. Vendors will vary in how they accomplish this, but EMA expects many vendors will continue to invest in AI and machine learning. Others will focus on capturing network expertise through low-code scripting tools to enable more automated processes.”

Broadcom, FirstWave, Kentik, Micro Focus, NS1, and Riverbed sponsored this independent research report.

A detailed analysis of the research findings is available in the report, “Network Observability: Delivering Actionable Insights to Network Operations.”

EMA will reveal highlights from the report during the free November 9th webinar, “Network Observability: Delivering Actionable Insights to Network Operations.”

About EMA
Founded in 1996, EMA is a leading industry analyst firm that provides deep insight across the full spectrum of IT and data management technologies. EMA analysts leverage a unique combination of practical experience, insight into industry best practices, and in-depth knowledge of current and planned vendor solutions to help their clients achieve their goals. Learn more about EMA research, analysis, and consulting services for enterprise line of business users, IT professionals, and IT vendors at

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