AmWINS Group is a financial services leader founded in 1998. It has more than 5400 employees across nearly 120 locations in 31 states and 12 countries and handles $17.4 billion in annual premium placements. The AmWINS WAN spans more than 80 branch offices.
They operate a software-defined wide area network built on Cisco’s Intelligent WAN (iWAN). They’ve deployed Cisco integrated services routers (ISRs) at each branch to dynamically route traffic based on application, endpoint, and network conditions.
The network engineering group needed insight into end user experience at each branch including how key services of their iWAN solution impact that experience. That was more information than their existing iWAN tools could provide.
They found NetBeez after an extensive search and conducted a proof of concept. They noted their newfound ability to:
1) quickly measure the impact of network changes or outages on end users
2) proactively detect and address degradation in service before users notice an issue
3) monitor how the Internet backbone affects SaaS applications.
AmWINS had deployed a version of NetBeez monitoring software as an agent on the Cisco iOS routers. “We’re deploying a KVM image as a container on the ISR devices,” says Addington, “so essentially the router acts as a host for our NetBeez agent. It’s totally approved and supported by Cisco. It tells us exactly what the network is doing because the active sensor is actually right there in the routing edge.”
Network Engineer, Brad Addington, says the network often took the blame for performance issues, rightly or wrongly. “Our DBAs or our developers could make a change to something that would disrupt the typically good user experience. The natural response was to blame the network for poor response. We didn’t have insight to correlate the change to the actual cause of the degraded performance,” explains Addington.
They resolved tickets faster, even when it wasn’t the network.
- Having information readily available on where to start looking at issues
- Getting alerts when the Internet is impacting critical services
- Ability to justify IT efforts to business leaders
AmWINS leverages NetBeez in a variety of ways.
“Our in-house Microsoft team gave us the URLs to our most common Microsoft services, and we use NetBeez to monitor HTTP response times to our Microsoft 365 suite, to Outlook and SharePoint,” says Addington.
“And we’re using it to monitor DNS, to make sure that URLs are actually resolving correctly. We even have it tracking a My Traceroute going out and watching from each branch to know how the Internet is actually impacting cloud services, especially with voice, Microsoft Teams, and other apps that are more susceptible to packet loss and jitter. To be able to see that and get alerts on that when something crosses a threshold that we’ve set within the NetBeez dashboard, it just makes for an overall better experience.”
NetBeez provides valuable data that the iWAN solution alone doesn’t provide. “We are able to share this data with other teams and especially with our business leaders to show that changes we are making are actually helping the infrastructure and the network,” says Addington.