What is Network Telemetry?

Man working at laptop that's showing data

by | March 3, 2017 | Networking

How Network Telemetry Improves Network Reporting

If you have a medical background or have spent time in a hospital, then the term telemetry may not be new to you. If this isn’t the case, then you may be wondering where the term network telemetry comes from.

Bear with us as we examine the meaning of medical telemetry first, as it can be helpful to understanding its use in networks. Medical telemetry refers to the machines that patients are hooked up to when they’re at risk and need to be continuously monitored. There are many variations which measure important biological metrics such as cardiac rhythms, blood pressure and blood oxygen level.

Medical telemetry is an important part of critical care in any medical environment. Here are a few important properties that make it useful:

  • Accuracy
  • Utility of each metric that measured
  • Granularity
  • Sample rate
  • Alerts when the metrics indicate a problem

Telemetry Network Monitoring

Accuracy and the utility of each measured metric are the simplest of these to understand. If what’s being measured doesn’t provide any insight into the problem, then there’s little point in measuring it. Similarly, if the measurement isn’t accurate, the metric provides little value even if the underlying value is useful.

Granularity refers to tracking the metric at a size or unit that makes sense for the intended purpose. For example, it would make little sense to track the average heart rate in a hospital. This is still a measure of an important metric, but it doesn’t enable the doctors to make any useful decisions.

Not all metrics require a high sample rate but many do. A heart rate measurement that takes a sample every 10 minutes isn’t very useful but blood pressure readings on an hourly basis are.

Finally, telemetry data can be large and complex due to the number of metrics, their granularity and the sample rate. It’s not reasonable to have a doctor or nurse staring at the telemetry machines all the time. Real-time detection and notification of problems is required. Everyone knows the sound of a blaring telemetry machine from medical TV shows.

Telemetry in Networking

Bringing this back to telemetry in networking, traditional reporting and monitoring solutions don’t meet the requirements for a good telemetry solution in several ways. The most important of these are the granularity and sample rate.

Network Telemetry graph with granularity and sample rate

Network telemetry monitoring is the extension of network reporting to higher granularities and sample rates combined with actionable metrics and alerting. One could argue that this is simply a difference in degree not kind. While there is an element of truth in this, we believe the value goes up exponentially with the granularity and sample rate. Therefore, it’s useful to use another term to communicate this difference.

You wouldn’t accept your doctor monitoring average heart rate and only taking that reading every five minutes. It’s time network monitoring evolves to network telemetry to deliver a similar level of insight and value.

Book a demo to try out Preseem network telemetry monitoring with our 30-day free trial.

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