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Posts Tagged ‘PathView

In the past few years, businesses are increasingly focused on two areas: 1) saving money and resources and 2) consolidation and collaboration of operations. Particularly in technology, this consolidation can be witnessed in the jump in virtual desktops and virtual servers, both of which leverage resource sharing and economies of scale to save on space, power and ultimately, cost and complexity. At the same time, we are seeing more and more technologies standardize their protocols and use of network infrastructures.

Unified Communications and Collaboration is the concept of putting both voice and data on a converged line instead of the traditional method of separating phone and computer networks. Placing both voice and data on the same network line requires constant monitoring of that pipe for cases of unexpected interactions between the increased numbers of applications sharing one path. While helping PathView Cloud customers diagnose their networks, we’ve seen a wide variety of network problems; one customer’s VoIP calls had intermittent downtime and dropped calls, but only during the hours of 5-6 PM! With the help of PathView, we detected that the customer’s IP storage was kicking in and backing up computers at 5pm, the standard “end of the work day.” This increased consumption of network bandwidth and the lack of QoS on voice traffic allowed enough packets to drop, resulting in poor voice quality and dropped calls.

AppView Web

AppView Web

We’ve seen how people often assume that the pipe needs to get bigger in order to handle the extra traffic that will be traversing the pipe when Unified Communications are deployed. This is not always the case.

When you have the ability to do application-specific testing, you can see  both sides of the pipe in order to help you find the location of the voice quality issues, whether the voice degradation occurs from site a to site b or vice versa. AppView Voice gives you the ability to test devices with real voice packets to verify voice quality between offices or between buildings. This can be done with a specified number of voice calls on the line for a specific amount of time, giving you information such as Mean Opinion Score (MOS), packet loss, jitter and many other performance metrics, which give you insight into how the network is dealing with the extra load on the line. Similarly, it is important to be able to monitor out to a specific website, returning performance information such as DNS resolution time and Connection establishment time, to be able to see exactly what your bandwidth needs on for web-based applications.

AppView Voice

AppView Voice

Using PathView Cloud will help you determine whether extra bandwidth is needed or if settings or configuration are to blame for issues (such as setting proper QoS settings on voice packets!). So with the big move to unifying your communications, use PathView to save your sanity and help resolve issues in a much faster and more precise fashion.

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We get it, traditional telephony is perfect. Nobody ever dropped a call, nobody ever heard echo, and it only cost about as much as a small island in the south pacific per month to run.

“I’m just an old phone guy; I don’t get these network issues.” This is a common line I hear when working through a VoIP deployment issue where the telephony vendor/MSP has become suspect and needs some help in the network arena.

Well, hold on to your MOS scores, because we are on the case.

Our Partner was in the midst of a VoIP deployment at a multi-site financial institution. Three sites out of 27 were known to be experiencing call quality issues and so they enlisted PathView to help solve the problem.  In about 20 minutes worth of monitoring data those same suspect sites were identified and another three that were experiencing the same issue.

Diagnostics were run, providers called, problem solved?? Keep dreaming.

The providers ensured nothing was different about these six sites (except for the fact that the route happened to change for all six shortly thereafter, eliminating the loss found on the path – did I mention we track route history?)

Seemed like we were winning – but then the phone rang with tales of rolling waves of destruction from the central site out to ALL remote offices.  The client of our MSP was outraged.  He swore that this VoIP deployment was a nightmare, and our Partner had their back up against the wall once again.

“Now there is loss everywhere!” Our partner exclaimed.  “What do all these results mean?!”  – I wasn’t scared.

I took a stroll back through the monitoring data collected and found the beginning traces of the loss. I calmly stated, “Looks like something changed on August 25th at around 1:00 in the morning.” (This was clear to me from the spike in loss and a change in route at the core of the network).

Indeed, something did happen on August 25th around 1:00 in the morning. The client was responsible for a swap in network gear that had caused the issue in the first place.  Apparently the client and MSP shared a good laugh about it after the client realized the MSP clearly had all the facts even before the boss did.

But something bigger happened on the follow-up call I had with our Partner – he realized that the “voice guy” in him had just become data-dangerous.  Armed now with enough to diffuse issues from both providers and the end clients alike.

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.

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!

According to Gartner, 95 percent of surveyed organizations plan to increase or maintain SaaS deployments, stating that cost savings are the biggest benefit for the appeal SaaS products. Unlike traditional applications that require a lump-sum investment and time to deploy into the business environment, SaaS offerings are broken into a subscription basis, favouring use by smaller businesses who may be without enough capital for a large organization wide purchase.  Pricing also tends to scale with the size of the subscription purchased, or the size of the organization itself, resulting in cost savings from a ‘pay for what you need’ sales model. There are benefits for the organization hosting the SaaS offering as well.  The recurring subscription fee allows for a predictable revenue stream, month to month.

SaaS products are not synonymous with Cloud products, many SaaS applications are offered in packages that can be deployed and hosted on a company’s internal network.  The PathView Cloud and PathView Premise options at Apparent Networks are one example of this.  However, with either option the SaaS Company will manage the product and provide centralized updates and support for the application.

Apparent Networks uses a SaaS model in order to provide ongoing updates to the entire customer base, provide on going sales and technical training, as well as provide continual customer support.  The bottom line is that a SaaS business involves a significant customer vendor relationship that a traditional lump sum purchase business does not. For software vendors and their resellers, as well as for resellers and their end user customers, this relationship is extremely beneficial for continual quality of service and business practices.

There has been significant buzz lately about the growth of Cloud Computing. With vendors offering an increasing selection of cloud based applications each year, there is no question that the cloud is where businesses are heading. IDC estimates that the market for cloud products will grow from the current $16B to $56B in 2014.  In the Apparent Networks office, we depend on many cloud based applications, the biggest of which is our cloud CRM database that holds all of our customer, support, sales and inventory data.

There are several reasons why cloud computing applications have a competitive advantage over traditional off-the-shelf solutions, many of which influenced us to move our product offering to the cloud. The most obvious reason is to achieve more efficient utilization of server infrastructure.  By allowing you to pay for just the processing and storage capacity you need for a server at any time, with the capability to upgrade seamlessly, you are minimizing both cost and risk associated with large hardware purchases. Secondly, cloud applications can be updated universally, resulting in a zero administration tool.  No installs, updates or software conflicts exist for the end user using a properly managed cloud product and the maintenance of the server hardware and software is done by the experts, not by your busy IT staff.  From an application development standpoint, quality assurance can always be focused on the current release of the product, allowing for a higher quality product. All of these factors reduce the operating and development costs of applications, resulting in lower costs products with equal or higher value for consumers.

So, why wouldn’t a network administrator want to also move the network monitoring and assessment service to the Cloud too? PathView Cloud, residing in the cloud itself, excels in its unique ability to measure network performance to and from other cloud based applications as well as on your LAN, WAN and VPN. In the increasingly network dependent world of cloud computing, a Remote Performance Management (RPM) tool that can monitor beyond a user’s internal network, especially to a cloud application, is imperative for ensuring optimal business performance.

Learn more about PathView Cloud’s abilities to support a cloud application performance dependent business environment.

 


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