This guest blog post is by Damian Roskill, CMO of AppNeta. We thank AppNeta for being a sponsor.
You’ve just gotten to work when a new support ticket comes in from the San Francisco office (you’re at headquarters in Chicago). Office 365 was running very slowly yesterday. It’s their third ticket this week, and the others are still in ServiceNow, unresolved.
Your first move is to call the user, only to hear that everything is now running, leaving you to wonder if this is a one-off issue or a systemic problem. Given that it’s the third ticket this week, you strongly suspect the latter. But how do you find the root cause?
This is a typical support scenario for remote offices, and it’s a challenge for IT for a few of reasons. First, applications are hosted in a wide variety of places, from internal data centers to SaaS providers. Second, the problem is intermittent. This ghost issue comes and goes, leaving you wondering how to trap it without knowing what’s causing it or when it occurs.
Third, and most importantly, you’re not there to experience the user’s experience with these applications.
These situations happen every day in enterprise IT, and most of them never get resolved. IT simply doesn’t have visibility into application performance because they no longer control the infrastructure. Applications are now delivered via the WAN, creating a huge dependency on network performance.
Troubleshooting, Old And New
Here’s how you would typically troubleshoot such a situation:
- Try to access the applications yourself.
- If all is well, check the Office 365 status page for outage reports and history. This page just reports the status of Office 365 Infrastructure, which is critical but not a representation of the user experience of the application. It can’t tell you much about the status of the service from San Francisco. The two offices might be accessing different infrastructures or are served up from different clouds.
- Check your own infrastructure. You log into the firewall to make sure the ISP service is up, which it is.
- Check the status page for the ISP service—Comcast, in this case—and everything seems fine.
- Test the availability of Office 365 using webpagetest.org, which produces synthetic traffic data from computers around the world, but it’s showing that Office 365 was up the whole time.
- Use a remote desktop or desktop-sharing tool to go into a machine in the San Francisco office to duplicate the issue. Everything looks fine. You run a bandwidth test using Ookla Speedtest but find no issue.
- Having exhausted your tool set, you decide to leave the ticket open. But after lunch, you get another ticket from a different user in the San Francisco office with the same issue.
This is how unresolved tickets pile up. And this is how users get frustrated with IT. From their point of view, the lack of clear answers is infuriating. But IT and Network Ops can’t answer these questions using conventional application and network monitoring tools. Traditional monitoring tools gather data from devices in your infrastructure (usually via SNMP), but when applications are delivered via the WAN, you don’t have access to that information.
Because these issues are sporadic, it’s unlikely that the person troubleshooting the problem will access the same system at the exact time the problem occurs. You need to monitor continuously to trap the ghost issue. Continuous monitoring provides other benefits, such as separating app and network issues and keeping vendors compliant to SLAs.
Application and network performance is a location-specific problem. You need a tool that monitors performance from where your users live and work.
AppNeta was specifically designed to solve these types of issues. For remote locations, AppNeta proactively monitors the actual end-user experience. AppNeta customers deploy hardware or virtual Monitoring Points at locations where users are accessing business-critical applications. Deployment doesn’t require any software or agents—simply plug in a Monitoring Point and attach it to a network span from your managed network router.
Once a Monitoring Point is up, it instantly starts recognizing applications in use and provides details about who is using which applications and what they’re experiencing. You can then set up active network monitoring to key applications to get continuous data on performance from where your users actually are.
A Better Way To Troubleshoot
Let’s troubleshoot our Office 365 problem with AppNeta. First, you would have been notified about the problem when performance thresholds were exceeded—before the user put in a ticket.
And rather than checking app status, you’d log into AppNeta Performance Manager via a web browser and select the San Francisco office in our Usage analysis. There, you’d see the applications being used, and see in the history which applications were in use when the user reported the problem.
In Usage, you might see that a large backup that shouldn’t be running during the day was kicking off. Or you’d see that there was a user uploading to DropBox and absorbing the bandwidth.
If Usage doesn’t show anything, you’d move on the actively instrumented applications. You’d see the synthetic application and network tests you’d set up—what we refer to as Experience and Delivery analysis, respectively—from the AppNeta monitoring point to Office 365.
Or perhaps the issue is with the ISP at the San Francisco office. Maybe you’re not getting the bandwidth you contracted for, or maybe there’s a route change slowing down the application. AppNeta’s patented TruPath technology lets you measure network performance for every step of the application delivery path, whether you own the infrastructure or not.
With AppNeta, you can also monitor the performance of each Internet connection you’ve attached to an SD-WAN device, along with the performance of the SD-WAN optimized network path.
AppNeta also eliminates the need to log in to a patchwork of monitoring tools by providing complete performance monitoring across both application and network—from the end user, through any network, to the application. Only AppNeta can provide visibility into network infrastructure you do not own or control.
All this means faster resolution of problems and happier users. So if you’ve moved to SaaS-delivered applications, or are planning to, make sure you’ve got the tools in place to maintain visibility. Interested in learning more? Request a free trial or try our interactive demo to experience AppNeta for yourself.