Telecommuting in all its forms has been on the rise for years. Today the trend is accelerating dramatically as affordable, cloud-based technology, rising gas prices, and pressure to reduce facilities’ operating costs all converge to make telework more attractive for all — and the enterprise more distributed than ever.

Whether they’re checking e-mail on their iPhones or leveraging their home wi-fi to access secure corporate VPNs, more and more people can work from almost anywhere these days. Echoing the “work from home” trend in the workforce, more and more bricks-and-mortar locations are likewise giving way to virtual offices.

The drive to reduce operating costs is escalating network loads for reasons other than telecommuting. Networks must also meet greater demands for bandwidth at remote offices and branch offices, as enterprises increasingly seek to improve services like Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C), storage, and access to applications while at the same time consolidating infrastructure and reducing IT costs.

Whatever the drivers behind the burgeoning numbers of telecommuters in the U.S. and many other countries, one factor is critical: whether they’re at home, in branch offices or across the planet, remote workers need access to corporate data and applications over high-bandwidth, low-latency networks. With today’s IP-based applications, poor performance rapidly leads to application failure and faltering productivity. If you haven’t experienced the frustration of a slow connection or poor performing virtualized application from a remote office, your co-workers have!

Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of network problems for many businesses these days, as more people and more applications – from cloud services and SaaS, to VoIP, to virtual desktops to IP storage to mobile devices – depend entirely on IP-based networks in order to perform properly and deliver critical services.

When faced with resolving problems relating to poor network performance quality and application failure, the ability to isolate issues at remote sites is essential. Network managers not only need insight into how the network is performing, but also need to know what specific applications are running on it, how they’re performing, and how much bandwidth each application instance is consuming.

Analysis tools can answer these kinds of questions, but they are costly and cumbersome, requiring high-end or redundant network hardware. Consequently, these solutions are almost never deployed to and at the remote offices where netflow analysis capabilities are now so vitally important.

To manage and troubleshoot network performance across town or across the globe, today’s distributed enterprise needs remote performance management capabilities that include both active application performance monitoring and active bandwidth monitoring relative to every remote site, regardless of what network hardware is in place and who owns the network.