Streaming Analytics: What Business Leaders Should Know

By Rick Aguirre

Any executive decision-maker whose business relies on a network needs to understand the business case for streaming analytics.


Network excellence is essential to maximizing productivity and security of an organization, and network excellence simply is not possible without streaming analytics. In the absence of streaming analytics, vulnerabilities that potentially expose valuable company assets – such as intellectual property, customer data, employee data, and financial information – could be undetected for long enough for bad actors to exploit. And poor user experiences due to network performance issues could cause companies to lose customers or waste employees’ time, cutting productivity.


Network excellence is vital to every organization, yet far too many businesses continue to remain uninformed about less-than-stellar network performance. This is where streaming analytics can help.



The Critical Asset


Networks today are complex and evolving with technology advances at lightning speed. This makes the need to see all the way into these networks as they operate (in real time) ever more critical to optimize network performance plus safeguard both the network and all the data running across it.


Rapidly advancing technologies also render inadequate the tools that network managers and analysts have been using to sustain strong network performance. Today’s networks need more powerful and comprehensive management tools that capture data instantly and automate the analysis of these high volumes of information. This is precisely the role of streaming analytics, whether it is for network performance data or for other types of data the network carries.


What network-related key performance indicators does your organization need to capture for analysis? To take full advantage of streaming analytics capabilities, leaders must first define the KPIs essential for their organization’s network managers and analysts.



Metrics for modern networks


Perhaps your organization’s goal is to acquire actionable business intelligence about customer behavior, potential new markets, or ideas for innovation. Poor network performance will make it a lot harder to obtain that intelligence, wasting time and resources. You may not even be able to gain these insights at all if the data containing the intelligence is inaccessible due to network problems.


Thus, your network managers and analysts need network performance data. This type of data includes, but is not limited to:


·       Anomalies and intrusions. You want to receive this type of data as close to real-time as possible, not hours or days or weeks or months later. You need to know instantly if unusual network events are benign or if they signal something more sinister. Otherwise your business is wide open to data theft and possible legal or regulatory risks.

·       Applications, devices, and machines. The old saying about a chain being only as strong as its weakest link applies here. Your organization may have done everything possible to keep your network and data secure only to have a vulnerable app added to it or insecure device attached to it. Network managers and analysts need to know right now where all those add-ons are and how they are impacting your network.


·       Bandwidth. Network capability can compromise employee productivity if it is subpar. Videoconferences and the computing capability to perform analysis using cloud-based apps can clog the pipeline. If you know how much capacity you need and how fast network traffic is growing, your organization will be able to plan for an orderly expansion of network capacity. This helps equip your network managers to be proactive, rather than having to constantly fight fires reactively. .


·       Bottlenecks and delays. These issues can be simply about capacity, but they can also signal something more sinister, like a cyber-attack chewing up bandwidth. Whatever the origins of the holdups, your network managers need to catch them quickly, as they arise, so they can fix the problems instead of letting them linger and grow because they can’t find them or do not even know about them.


Overall network reliability. This touches on productivity as well as customer retention. If your network flutters and stutters, your business has a problem that you need solved fast.


A database just for your network


Once you capture all this network performance data, this growing data record itself becomes key to solving network performance issues. A time series database devoted solely to a precious resource, your network, makes this valuable data retrievable easily and quickly, allowing for real-time analysis of high volumes of information.


A time series database serves as a foundation for automated reporting of network actions and events, including ongoing monitoring for anomalies. With the right streaming analytics tools, network managers and analysts can set up thresholds to trigger automated alerts and reporting when a metric performs out of bounds from its historical baseline. 


Combined with automated alerts and reports, the time series database reserved solely for your network enables managers and analysts to more efficiently familiarize themselves with network performance expectations and respond decisively to triggered alerts.


ROI of streaming analytics


All business decision makers want to know the bottom line. What’s the return on investing in streaming analytics? Here are a few key benefits:


·       Top network performance.

·       More productive employees.

·       Satisfied customers and subscribers.

·       Increased data security and lower regulatory and legal risks.


Network performance can influence your organization’s financial results, its susceptibility to cyber threats, and even impact your organization’s reputation and future viability.


In short, entire industries and business models now rely on achieving and sustaining network excellence. Streaming analytics is now the best possible tool to achieve and maintain network excellence to attain business goals.