Understanding what’s wrong with the the network, all the way from enterprise users, across the internet, to a SaaS or internal application is one of the most important new skills CIOs and the data center team must have. As I pointed out in “How To Manage Your New Data Center: The Entire Internet”, as more and more SaaS products are deployed and as more employees are mobile or remote, the public Internet becomes a critical path. Within a few minutes you must be able to determine answers to these questions:
- Is the problem in our network?
- Is the problem in the vendor’s network?
- Is the problem somewhere else?
- How can we get around it?
- Can we tell when it will be fixed?
Existing technologies for IT Operations Management were not built to answer these questions. In a series of stories, I’m looking at the new generations of products built for the world we live in now where the boundaries of the data center have been effectively dissolved.
ThousandEyes, founded by Ph.Ds from UCLA, has built an innovative system that can visualize and isolate network problems hop by hop from within an enterprise, across the Internet to the cloud provider. Mohit Lad, CEO of ThousandEyes said that the system works by creating beacons around the Internet that are constantly communicating, sending intelligent probes to characterize network behavior. This data provides evidence when something goes wrong, because communications between connections that are normally working suddenly stop. ThousandEyes customers can also deploy beacons inside their infrastructure.
At the core of the technology is what they call as Deep Path Analysis, which visualizes the hop by hop path and also infers where the problems might be. This, along with a variety of other proprietary features, create a data set and real time capabilities that can pinpoint where a problem is in an instant and also provide early warnings.
But the most important part of ThousandEyes are the advanced visualizations that bring everything together. In less than a minute, especially if you have beacons in your network, you can see exactly what is happening in your network and the public network, which is what is required when SaaS and cloud resources becomes a huge part of your infrastructure. This sort of knowledge is also vital to help troubleshoot problems for mobile users, who may be connecting to your services or to SaaS and cloud resources from anywhere on the Internet. Like most of the latest generation of IT Operations Management products, ThousandEyes is cloud-based, which speeds setup and implementation.
The power to troubleshoot the entire network, both public Internet and the internal network, has another massive money-saving impact. Companies spend large amounts to connect to branch offices using private backhaul connections. The back offices connect to the internal data center and the Internet using the secure connections through the central office. ThousandEyes changes this equation by allowing a CIO to safely eliminate the private backhaul connection and instead let the branch office use the public internet instead. This may mean more security technology at the branch office or a different kind of cloud-base security, but the savings are usually substantial.
If your data center has become the entire internet, and it has, then you need to be able to debug network problems wherever they may occur. ThousandEyes is one solution to this challenge. If you know of other approaches, please reach out to me.
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