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Today, Apparent Networks will join thought leaders, vendors and providers at Enterprise Connect 2011 in Orlando. Formerly named VoiceCon, Enterprise Connect is the industry’s top enterprise communication event. It’s all about helping enterprises make the best-informed decisions regarding their IP Telephony, Converged Networks and Unified Communications (UC) strategies.

New technologies and architectural options like Cloud and virtualization, which offer both unprecedented opportunities and a potential maze of migration and integration paths, are going to make this year’s show particularly interesting. Times are changing, and so is enterprise communications technology! 

Nowhere is the value of Remote Performance Management more evident and relevant than in the context of unified, distributed and cloud-based enterprise communications, from VoIP to Video Conferencing to Collaboration and Virtualization. As enterprises strive to plan, build, unify and leverage their global communications infrastructures, amid the many possibilities one factor is constant — the ability to pre-assess and continuously monitor, troubleshoot and manage application performance and user experience from the perspective of remote sites will determine whether deployments are successful.

Today’s enterprise is increasingly dependent on distributed IT infrastructure. Predictable delivery of web-based applications like VoIP, video conferencing and cloud-based services is mission-critical. But the performance of these services depends entirely on the bandwidth and reliability of the networks that deliver them to remote sites.

Typical datacenter-centric performance monitoring tools aren’t capable of analyzing network-dependent, site-specific service levels. How can an enterprise monitor the health and quality of its UC services and other web-based applications? The solution is Remote Performance Management.

The PathView Cloud service uniquely provides detailed performance metrics like latency, loss and jitter across all the public networks, WANs, LANs and/or VPNs that enterprise services may traverse, end-to-end, hop-by-hop, from the provider to the user and back. These capabilities enable enterprise customers to detect and potentially address network degradations before they impact users.

We’re very excited about this week at Enterprise Connect and hope you will stop by to visit us at Booth 1413. If you’re not attending, save yourself a trip, and schedule a live, web-based demo with us — call 800-508-5233 or email mailto:PathView_Sales@apparentnetworks.com

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We are all witnessing a dramatic shift from traditional network infrastructures to web-based, cloud based hosted services.  A rapidly growing number of organizations are taking the leap:  to hosted email, disaster recovery, exchange,  and CRM. By leveraging economies of scale, cloud based services can offer significant cost savings, versatile capabilities and low maintenance compared to traditional on -premise solutions.

With the growing number of IT services that can now be processed and delivered via the cloud, there is also an increased sense of insecurity within organizations looking to make the move.  The lack of visibility into cloud services and the infrastructure they run on create a level of risk that many organizations are not ready to manage.  However, this also creates a particular niche for service providers and IT resellers who can lead these organizations through the transition, and make a profit in the process! Traditional IT outsourcers and managed service providers are in a unique position to fill this requirement. MSPs have been serving as IT experts and advisors for small to medium sized businesses for some time. And because many companies lack traditional IT departments they a need a cloud services expert to mitigate the transition to cloud based services; doing so by addressing risk and assuring performance.

So, how do you become a provider of remote cloud service performance management?

  1. You need to have the right solutions and capabilities in place: A solution that can remotely manage WAN performance of your customer’s infrastructure is vital to create a scalable managed services business.  Another key feature to look for in a solution is the capability to remotely manage a multitude of customer sites from any location.
  2. You need to have a pricing model and service structure: Organizations looking to utilize Cloud Services do so because of the ease of use and low cost of these services.  To properly price a cloud assurance service, you should follow these same guidelines.  A simple and scalable pricing model that provides a fixed annual cost to your customer works best.  We recommend you create a user-based pricing model; many organizations are accustomed to paying for services on a per user basis. (i.e. software licensing, phone lines, bandwidth). The service structure can be an added line item for continuous monitoring with bundled service hours, or an ‘all you can eat’ service contract (which many MSPs and end users are moving towards.)
  3. You need to beat out your competition: This is all happening NOW. Organizations are starting to research, re-budget and implement cloud-based services while simultaneously moving away from traditional on premise devices and services. You need to bring your service to them first to get the new business and recurring revenue.

Please visit http://www.apparentnetworks.com/partners/build-your-business-with-cloudsmart/ to learn more about implementing a service around Remote Performance Management, or email partners@apparentnetworks.com to set up a call to discuss how to start to implement this service into your business.

Apparent Networks partners with N-able Technologies

It was a pleasure to attend the N-able Partner Summit held last week in Scottsdale, Arizona where we met up with our newest technology partner and N-able customers looking for value added solutions for their IT service businesses.

It was great to hear what was going on with MSPs today and some of the challenges they are facing. Top concerns amongst the MSPs we talked to included troubleshooting network problems remotely, getting blamed by customers for performance problems out of their control and an inability to look at network specific application performance, primarily for UC deployments of voice and video.  While they have a great platform for remote monitoring and management, they can’t always see into their customers’ networks and this leads to costly truck rolls and on-site troubleshooting.
There were some great fellow MSP solution providers in attendance including: Autotask, Connectwise, Tigerpaw, Intronis, Iron Mountain and Axcient as well as many managed service providers who were very excited about the plethora new technology solutions.

Last week we also announced the new Apparent Networks technology alliance with N-able. Together, we are bringing our MSP partners an integrated solution for comprehensive remote monitoring and management solution for MSP businesses.  With both of our development teams working hard to add significant value in terms of monitoring, managing and understanding performance sensitive applications such as VoIP, Video, IP Storage and virtualization.

On September 29th, we experienced a large amount of poor call quality here at the Apparent Networks Boston headquarters.  Our sales team was unable to engage in communications and was quickly losing productivity.  With the VoIP server hosted at our remote office in Vancouver, there could have been any number of reasons why this was occurring.  However, PathView Cloud was able to provide our engineers with the full story before the sales team could even react.

PathView Cloud told us that our recent firmware upgrade had wiped the QoS settings we had deployed for our VoIP system allowing other network traffic to take precedence over our telephony packets in the VPN tunnel connecting our two offices, resulting in poor call quality and dropped calls. Click here to take a live look at our business production servers!

If you’re suffering from slow application performance, chances are you’re suffering from some degree of latency.  As everyone knows, each computer has its own performance limits.  With one too many applications, lag will result from the inability of the computer to process all of its inputs. If the application relies on connectivity with some type of remote device, such as a back-up service, an exchange e-mail server or even just video chatting with a colleague over the internet, the performance disruption or failure is a result of the network, rather than the hardware.

The latency on your network defines the minimum wait time before the person or service on the other end receives the packets you send. For a connection between New York and Los Angeles, the minimum possible latency is typically 40ms. In many cases, network traffic and misconfigurations can dramatically increase this time.

However, when it comes to cloud based applications, such as the CRM application we use here at Apparent Networks, both of these factors come into play and exponentially increase response time as they suffer performance losses. The local client for cloud based applications is usually a thin client, or even a web-browser client that only relays inputs to the actual application running on a machine on the cloud.  In this case, latency is the lag time for a signal to reach the server (for the NY to LA example, this would be at the lowest 40ms) the processing time for the server to create a response, and the time for it to be sent back to the client machine.

This increase in response time is also exacerbated when the application is an ‘on demand’, or live application, that requires packets to be sent upstream then received downstream whenever an action is taken.  An example of this is a virtualized desktop.  Because even the smallest action requires data to be sent, each individual action will be subject to the round trip latency on your network.

Latency is a problem – and one that we can’t afford to risk. So how do we ensure that latency stays at a minimum? For managed devices and services, optimization is up to the service provider. For localized devices and services, there are a plethora of tools that can determine and alert you on service quality drops.  However, with an increasingly network dependant world, how do we detect and address increases in response time on our carrier networks and externally managed services?

Without a network monitoring tool that can determine exactly what the problem is and pinpoint where on the network it is happening, troubleshooting is virtually impossible.  If the performance issue is occurring because of a lack of bandwidth, searching for lagging devices will not help.  If the latency is occurring across the WAN, you have no power to make optimizations without proof. PathView Cloud is one tool that manages network performance, including latency, up the path to remote applications and back to the source to detect real time changes in network performance. Learn more about PathView Cloud’s reporting capabilities here!

As applications evolve, so does the infrastructure that supports them.  In terms of network dependent applications, the applications of today are dramatically more performance sensitive than the ones of yesterday.  Voice over IP, video conferencing, and virtual desktop infrastructure all rely heavily on high bandwidth, low latency networks to perform without hiccups and service interruptions.  So how well does a network need to perform for each of these applications?

We put together the following network performance requirements chart through consulting various experts and application providers.

In order to meet the requirements of an increasingly performance demanding business world, it is more important than ever to ensure that your networks are performing.

The PathView Cloud product not only allows you to monitor the performance of your networks remotely, it also will pro-actively detect violations in service level thresholds that you set and notify you.  Alternatively, PathView can be used to pre-assess networks to see if they meet the standards for delivering satisfactory performance before each of these deployments. Take a look at how we’re monitoring our live business environment here!

When talking to prospective PathView customers, a common question we receive is why we utilize a hardware microAppliance when most remote performance managment firms offer a pure software offering.  The move from a softw are sequencer to a hardware microAppliance for the PathView Remote Performance Management Service is to promote the highest quality service to our customers. An inherent problem with software agents in monitoring applications is that the performance of the hardware in which the application is installed will effect the results of the performance monitoring application.  In the case of PathView Cloud, any degradation in performance of the server hosting the sequencer will result in skewed results throughout the multi-hop network path being monitored.

The use of the hardware microAppliance allows PathView Cloud to be completely optimized for plug & play. The microAppliance is shipped with a static address and require less than five minutes to configure.  By utilizing the hardware microAppliance, we ensure a consistent quality of service for our customers, lower the need for support and troubleshooting, and allow for a short turn-around from time of sale to active performance monitoring.  Because the microAppliance is not part of the service price, any malfunctioning hardware is replaced free of charge.

Although the software sequencer is available for special circumstances, the microAppliance is recommended because of the ease and performance of the product. The choice to utilize the microAppliance does not increase the cost of PathView Cloud, but is instead offered as a value add, allowing for a zero-administration solution that is accessible from anywhere.

To learn more about the microAppliance’s specifications, please see the datasheet here.


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