IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Use AI to Improve Network Visibility and Customers' Network Experience

Consider these three ways AI-based tools and technologies can help a service provider gain visibility and maintain the end-user experience. By Karen Falcone and Kayla Zbinden

Gaining full network visibility is a critical aspect of proper management, particularly for managed service providers (MSPs) and channel partners. Understanding customers' networks completely allows them to provide the best possible service and ensure the highest quality end-user experience.

Therefore, it is essential to be able to view traffic and events in real time. The more information MSPs have about the traffic crossing a network, and the sooner they have it, the better they can understand the quality of the experience they are providing customers—and make adjustments as necessary.

Real-time visibility with alerts and anomaly detection enables a provider to recognize behavior patterns, locate issues, and make more informed decisions about what to be on guard against  and how to solve any issues. In addition, with more information, the easier it is to scale and manage several customer networking experiences at the same time.

Gaining Visibility

The key aspects of a network that MSPs need visibility into include:

  • Traffic: Understanding the volume, type, and origin of network traffic is essential for identifying potential bottlenecks or issues. Strong visibility allows for a tunnel-free routing approach, where the most important traffic can be prioritized to its destination in the fastest path possible. This approach is simpler and more efficient than using tunnels, and it can also help improve performance and reduce costs.
  • Performance: Monitoring network performance, including latency and packet loss, is crucial for ensuring that the network is operating at its best and that end users have a consistent experience. In addition, being able to view network events in real time makes it easier to identify and resolve problems quickly as they occur. Managing clients’ networks more proactively will help to ensure they have an excellent networking experience each time they connect. This is only possible with strong visibility.
  • Security: Closely tied to performance, visibility into network security is essential for identifying and addressing potential vulnerabilities or attacks. Information is critical during a breach; teams need to know where, when, how, and what was affected—and what could be affected. Visibility grants this information to a security team, letting them act instead of investigating.

Scaling Visibility

While visibility is critical in order to properly take a proactive approach to managing a customer’s network, a service provider is also responsible for managing their own company’s ability to provide services, compete, and grow. The only way to do that is if network management can be scaled and simplified, across all accounts. All customers should continue to receive the same level of service and excellent experience, no matter how big their partner grows.

A dashboard that provides a single pane of glass view into networks, such as uptime, events, issues, and more, is important to be able to identify issues and act across all accounts, instead of waiting to determine if it affects each customer first. A dashboard helps teams to maintain the experience by recognizing issues early and proactively fixing them, often before the users even know anything was done.

That said, the makeup of a client’s network itself has become increasingly complex these past few years. With the rise and normalcy of remote and hybrid work, and the never-ending stream of cloud applications and connected devices, the size of the network that has to be managed, monitored, and protected is growing exponentially. This makes it more difficult to gain full visibility, as the “entire network view” is a moving target. Despite that, MSPs need to continue to grow their business and add new customers. This is where advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can help.

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