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Live from Kaseya Connect in Vegas!

I am enjoying my second day at Kaseya Connect in warm & sunny Las Vegas. We are joining hundreds of managed service providers and fellow sponsors for a few great days of learning more about Kaseya and how we can support the Kaseya user community with the AppNeta instant value network performance management solutions.

One thing I have found interesting about the vendors joining AppNeta at the Kaseya Connect event is the diversity.  I have seen everything from hardware, to software, to cloud services, to AV/HIP.  Seeing the variety of technologies and solutions, it is clear to me just how broad the services and capabilities are as a managed service provider.  One minute you can be uninstalling a virus from a Windows 2K (yes, i said 2K) workstation, and the next you need to lay down fresh cat5e for your new VoIP install.

Even with all of this diversity, Kaseya is doing a great job bringing us together and establishing the business need and focus on these services. I just got out of a breakout session discussing the go-to-market-  strategy for IT outsourcing;  a great way to help out the newly minted Kaseya partners adequately deploy the software in the most successful, profitable way.

Also, Kaseya has created an impressive line-up of keynote speakers.  Kaseya CEO Gerald Blackie gave a great keynote this morning and later today we have Jim Abbott speaking as well. He may have been a New York Yankee, but I am a big fan of his courage and perseverance.

I am also very excited to unveil the new AppNeta and Kaseya integration this week!  During my days as a system admin, I had a window for my SNMP devices, Backups, and lastly Kaspersky. Now with the new PathView Cloud and Kaseya technology integration, users have one integrated, end to end view into performance levels of critical applications such as VoIP, Video conferencing, IP storage and virtualization.

I am going to be in town throughout the conference.  You can find me in my stunning blue AppNeta polo shirt.  Swing by Area D in the Partner Pavilion and check out our live demo site, sign up for a personal demo, and try out our GUI on a laptop, Xoom, or iPad.  PVC (which uses Flash) on an iPad (that does not support flash?) Yep, I said it.  Come by and check it out

See you around Vegas!!!

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As a pre-sales engineer, I see a lot of interesting network performance management scenarios while working with future customers on product trials.  I’ve seen everything from a managed switch that had a rogue 10-meg port to a problematic WiFi access point, located in the basement of a hospital!

On a recent trial , I was working with a network engineer who works for a video conferencing services provider.  Contrary to what I expected, they were not looking to solve a customer’s problem.  This particular customer was concerned with their own internal Unified Communications platform.  There were three core offices on the east coast, and a remote office in the UK.  Once I heard we were dealing with UC over the WAN between remote offices, I thought “Jackpot! This is PathView Cloud’s forte.”  This is going to be like a Shaquille O’Neal dunk at the Garden.  However, in the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Once we had the PathView Cloud microAppliances deployed in the four various offices, we configured the network paths in a full mesh manner.  The spider web was starting to come together very nicely.  But as I looked the PathView dashboard, I started to see some violations represented by red bubbles on the interface.

Looking more closely at the results of the hop by hop path analysis, it was evident that duplex conflicts everywhere.  Every phone, video camera, even PC in this office was showing a duplex conflict.  “Great!” I thought.  We found the problem.  Change the duplexes. Case closed, let’s go home.

If it were only that easy…

Once we changed the settings, PathView Cloud continued to detect errors.  Some were cable errors, some were limiting errors.  I started to scratch my head – what could this possibly be?  I ran the results by a couple other engineers on my team.  Adam Edwards, Director of Systems Engineers, thought it could be the switch which was bad.

After I shared the findings with the customer, he was a bit hesitant because his SNMP polling device was saying the switch was running as it is supposed to.  To humour me, he swapped out the switch.  As soon as that happened, the performance was drastically better.  We still have not been able to definitively determine what caused the issue, though we are pretty sure it’s something tied to the settings that controlled the RTP/RTCP streams.

During the analysis phase of this, it felt like a twelve round bout with Mike Tyson.  We found duplex conflict, rate limiting, and eventually uncovered that the whole switch was bummed out.  All of this came right through the PathView Cloud interface within minutes of deploying the microAppliances.  PathView Cloud performance was like David Ortiz batting in the bottom 9th. Only he will win.

We are often asked how our technologies very from traditional network management tools. While most other tools rely on simple network management protocol (SNMP), we utilize our own technology to perform ‘active’ network monitoring infrastructure.

Around here, we compare SNMP to a car’s dashboard.  You are able to see how much gas is in the tank, what the engine RPMs are, and how hot the engine is running. But if you’re in a hurry to catch a flight out of Logan Airport, what you really want to know about is the traffic on the highway.  How long will it take me to get through Boston?  How many other cars are on the road?  How many lanes does the Massachusetts Turnpike have?  Is there a detour because of the Big Dig?  You need to be able to see roadblocks that hinder performance (and your timely departure!) on the way to   your application’s destination.

SNMP is configurable on most routers, managed switches and other network devices.  The metrics gathered using this protocol are unique, and critical to network performance:  You can see utilization of memory or CPU, and the health of that devices hardware components.  This is all very valuable information that no network engineer should be without, but even a network that is fully instrumented with SNMP cannot answer the fundamental question of how well your network is doing its job, connecting users with information. What happens when the packets leave that device; traverse the network; go through another device, and so on?  Do the application packets, traveling from the service inception point to the service consumption point, face any problems reaching their destination on time?

With all of the packet shaping technologies that are enacted across WAN connections, there is a risk that the performance of a network application can be hindered unintentionally. Traffic shaping and QoS is often set in a vacuum, with settings determined by the intuition of the engineer who may not be aware of all critical applications that are using a WAN connection. To really understand what circumstances these application packets face while traversing the WAN, you need visibility through each and every device the packets encounter to see the cumulative effect of the packet shaping.

PathView Cloud sends ‘network analysis’ packets from the microAppliance to the service consumption end point.  On the way to the destination, any deviation or interruption in the route, such as a point of congestion or point of data loss is revealed and reported back to the cloud reporting server.  All of these metrics are delivered from each hop in the network path, even from devices you don’t manage.  This process fundamentally differs from contemporary SNMP monitoring; Instead of having a management information base (MIB) telling us what’s going on, PathView Cloud is able to find out on its own.

At the end of the day, the network admin needs to weigh the importance between status of devices and the status of the application path.  When it comes down to it, there is not a right or wrong answer, both are needed.  But one thing that is true, end users don’t care if it is the device, the application, or even themselves that is causing application performance degradation, they just want their applications to work!

Happy monitoring!

One of the big questions that we hear all the time is “how do you differentiate from other remote monitoring tools?” And, with an ever-changing IT environment and many solutions on the market, we understand why this is such an important question to answer.  As well as the more important question to answer – why should you care?

Remote Monitoring Management (RMM) products allow for the deployment of applications off premise.  This is crucial to maintain stability at the workstations.  Though, when it comes to network performance, an RMM tool has limited resources.  A well positioned tool is only able to capture limited SNMP statistics.  SO at the end of the day, the questions still remains, how is my network performing?

In the Apparent Networks office here in Boston, we’re always buzzing about Remote Performance Management (RPM) – what we think is a critical component of network monitoring. Traditional Remote Monitoring Management tools focus on making sure your managed services stay up and running, but lose their edge when it comes to pinpointing the cause of performance degradation, where RPM really shines.

The PathView Cloud Remote Performance Management solution uniquely creates and sends packets to any specified IP-addressable end-point, proactively experiencing the performance of the entire network path – every minute!   By framing the network in its entirety rather than pin-pointing “data collection points” the problems of the aforementioned methods can be avoided. With such a tool the business sensitive health and performance of the network can genuinely be gauged.

So why should YOU care? Whether you are managed service provider or you are managing an internal IT dept. RPM must be part of your toolkit. RPM provides you with a tool that not only quickly pre-assesses networks to reveal potential problems before deployment, it also provides continuous monitoring to determine the source of performance issues and enables you to fix them – to lessen the impact on end users.

Click here to learn more about the PathView RPM approach to network monitoring.


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