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The Next Digital Divide Is the Network

Disrupt or be disrupted.

ExtraHop Network Administrator Data Broker

When technology comes along and "disrupts" your industry, and even threatens to automate or obsolete your job, there are two ways you can think about it:

  1. "This is the end of everything I've worked for..." or
  2. "This is the moment to extend and transform myself, my skills, and my opportunity"

For those whose main role is to support and administer the network, it's your turn to choose one of these mindsets. Technology has transformed what it means to be an IT Ops professional, a developer, or a sysadmin. Those same transformations have now arrived at the network's doorstep. This might make you nervous. That's a healthy reaction, but before your blood pressure rises too much, here's the good news: network engineering and admin roles aren't being made obsolete by new tech. Quite the opposite. Your role is on the cusp of becoming even more powerful and critical to your organization than it already is.

Consider the alternatives… IT Operations started seeing personnel cuts and shifts to the cloud, requiring big skillset changes. Traditional print and media marketers saw SEO, SEM, and social media swallowing budgets. Developers who couldn't get into agile or DevOps mentalities were passed by. These were situations where technology changed a role so drastically that many practitioners were unable to evolve to meet the new needs.

For networking folks, it doesn't need to be that way. Yes, the core function of networking "transport," is being abstracted, with Software Defined Networking (SDN) and cloud tech leading the way. However, that frees you up to address a much more critical and higher priority function: managing the flow of information that happens on the network. Not just making sure packets get where they need to be, but getting the most value out of them on the way. As we've discussed in previous posts, organizations are having to radically rethink the network as more of their core business activities are becoming digitized. These digital interactions are vital to an organization's continued success, and in order to manage them effectively, you need to manage the millions of transactions that make up these activities.

That is where you, the network engineer, have a chance to add an incredible amount of value, and thus become a linchpin not only to your IT team, but to your entire business. The network is the connective tissue that binds all these digital interactions. Companies have tried taking advantage of this goldmine by gathering and analyzing the data at the endpoints, but this creates an imperfect view of the digital experience your customers are having. The water only gets muddier as containers, microservices and other abstractions further distribute the application delivery chain. Only by tracing the flow of data across the network can organizations stay in control and understand the health and performance of the entire ecosystem and the customer experience it supports.

As a networking professional, you are uniquely equipped to make sense of what is occurring in the environment. You speak Protocols. You understand performance optimizing algorithms. You can read packets like tea leaves. When something's wrong in the application delivery chain, you're the one with the facts to cut the blamestorm short. Your knowledge, which has always been critical to just keeping the ship on course, is now also the key to transforming you into the information broker for the organization. This is an opportunity to change the dynamic with your customers, both internal and external. Instead of being the person other teams take out their frustrations on, become the trusted advisor and proactive keeper of wisdom that surfaces the problems they didn't even realize they had.

Ideally, you'd be jazzed about this kind of transformation, but it is also daunting. I'm sure you're thinking "everything is always on fire... how the bleep am I going to find the time to actively transform into some oracle that delivers all these insights to other teams?"

Some of our customers have already figured it out, and we're working with them to learn exactly what it takes to help network professionals become information brokers and champions for every team in truly data-driven businesses.

It sounds a bit crazy, but our customers have already discovered this to be true… ExtraHop is more than just a monitoring platform, it's a source of career differentiation for you. We've invested in creating a platform that snaps to your workflows and rapidly improves upon your time to insights. If you could collect the 15 packets you need to trace a problem without having to sift through the last hour or 500GB of data, would that free up enough time to take on a new and exciting project? Because that's what is possible with this platform. In just a few clicks, you can get from initial investigation to the exact packets you need. And more often than not, you won't need to go all the way down to the packet level anyway. In many cases, having the metadata collected off the wire (what we call wire data) will tell you exactly where a problem is occurring.

As networking is rapidly transformed by emerging tech, networking professionals will fall into two camps:.

  1. Those who had the time to pivot and address the growing digital experience needs of the business.
  2. Those who will become marginalized as they continue to fight on the front lines using inefficient means and never having time to invest in growing their career.

At ExtraHop our focus is on enabling and inspiring as many folks as possible to join the camp of growth and innovation. Give us a shot, and we'll help you regain control of your existing environment and then stick with you as you become a vital information broker for the organization.

Don't take my word for it, go see what analysts and customers are saying about ExtraHop.

Also worth a look at the customer success support we have:

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Our customers' success is our success. You didn't just purchase our innovative technology - you signed up our whole company as your partner. We pride ourselves on that commitment, and we will prove it repeatedly.

Raja Mukerji, Chief Customer Officer, ExtraHop Networks

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