When data exists in silos with no unified, comprehensive view, IT teams responsible for optimizing performance struggle to succeed. 

Marlin McFate, Chief Technology Officer for Public Sector at Riverbed Technology and my guest on a recent edition of World Wide Technology's Public Sector Tech Talk podcast, doesn't mince words about this issue. "Silos are bad, but incredibly persistent," he said. "We asked ourselves: How do we get rid of silos?"

Bringing data together from multiple silos and different domains was one of the main goals that drove the development of Alluvio, a next-generation unified network visibility solution from Riverbed.

"Alluvio takes network, security, end-user, application, device data that teams commonly see and puts them in context, stitching together an end-to-end understanding of network activity through correlation," McFate said. "The goal is not just to enhance visibility but create what we call unified observability where IT leaders can truly understand their network environment and achieve insights that lead to action."

A Strong Foundation

Even with advances in networking and cloud computing, as long as the data that needs to be analyzed exists in silos, the analysis process will be handicapped, inefficient and cumbersome. The complexity of today's networks has made the manual correlation of data virtually impossible. In the public sector, with massive networks and sprawling organizations, the combination of silos and complexity has created a nearly untenable IT and security situation.

"We've all been in these rooms with TVs on every wall with feeds of networking, cybersecurity and application data, with people just looking at it all," McFate said. "And there's tons of disconnected data from different places and it's almost impossible to correlate it and gain insights that lead to action."

That's where Alluvio provides value, McFate said. It helps combine data from disparate systems, enables automated analysis to reduce false positives, and dramatically speeds up the process of diagnosing root causes of problems. Alluvio provides enhanced observability, combining data from the network, end users, applications and other domains so IT teams can make faster informed decisions.

When there are IT problems, "the network people get blamed the most," McFate said. "But the toughest problems are often not network problems. They're at the periphery between domains or at the edge or in multiple places."

The benefits of that ability to see data in context is not just a benefit for network and security teams. It enables faster resolution of all types of problems and improves performance for end users, for applications, for networks and more. It enables better collaboration within IT teams. 

"In creating observability, we can unify solutions and create a foundation," McFate said. "It gets everyone playing from the same sheet of music."

Reduced Alert Fatigue

The observability concept also reduces the onslaught of alerts that cybersecurity, help desk and other IT teams receive. It is not uncommon for individual team members to receive thousands of alerts daily, which can lead to 'alert fatigue,' burnout and poor performance.   

With its automated investigation capability, Alluvio reduces the number of false positives. This allows IT teams to focus on the most significant, high priority challenges and stay laser focused on their missions.

In making these steps, organizations – even large ones like those in the federal government – can better use the tools at their disposal. 

"We're trying to go to the root of the problem," McFate said. "We don't want people just operating in their silo. Security and performance must scale to reach across these silos in new ways. That's what we mean when we talk about observability – understanding what's happening in your network and how it relates to the larger ecosystem."

Tune into the full podcast to learn more about how Alluvio by Riverbed helps public sector organizations effectively unify, analyze and take action on the data generated by their IT infrastructure.