As an advisor to NetBeez, I had the privilege to interview a customer last week and hear about what they are doing with the technology. Unfortunately, given the sensitive nature of business his company is in, I can’t reveal his name or company. But the story is interesting, in any case, and I’ll call the customer individual “John” to protect his identity.
The company engaged with NetBeez about a year ago. John and his network team had many distributed sites to monitor, and they tired of sending out expensive laptops to remote sites, incurring exorbitant hardware, software, shipping, handling and management costs, just to get the operational awareness they needed. In addition, the laptops had to remain available at the remote sites (lid up) – and any janitor could shut the lid and foul up monitoring efforts. Too difficult and costly!
John was intrigued with the Raspberry Pi, and thought it could be a very cost-effective way of handling their dilemma. John briefly considered “doing it himself.” Meanwhile John saw a Tweet about a company that had already solved the problem – NetBeez.
John reached out to NetBeez and found them cognizant of his issues and responsive with good ideas. John got his company to buy in, but it was a “toe in the water” experiment at first. They needed to monitor three key pieces of their infrastructure: WAN, LAN and Services on the LAN (such as web servers.) It is difficult to differentiate where a problem lies in the infrastructure, when all you have to go on is a report of problems from a user. They started rolling out NetBeez to gain the operational visibility they needed, while reducing costs.
The basic problem is that if there’s a WAN problem, everything downstream will be negatively affected. If there’s a LAN problem, of course the Services will be affected. If there’s a Services problem, how do you know if it’s the WAN, the LAN or one of the specific services? NetBeez gave them that visibility. Fast forward to now. The company has deployed quite a few NetBeez agents at remote sites and is getting great results.
At first, the only folks with access to the NetBeez dashboard and emails with alerts were John’s immediate team. They worked with NetBeez to reduce the “false positives” in network anomalies and to improve the email notifications to include the source, target and other useful troubleshooting information right in the email subject. They found their operational awareness increase and were able to prove this with better incident response in a number of situations.
Next comes the “buzz”, where colleagues outside of the network team, including the server team, architecture and design, application owners and even executives became very interested. In executive-level meetings, people started asking “what is NetBeez saying?” Believe it or not, Finance even got interested, when John’s team was able to find carrier issues that violated guaranteed SLAs and allowed the company to get discounts, based on proven carrier outages that hurt the network. Money talks.
Now that the “experiment” is a success, John has other teams requesting access to the NetBeez dashboard and alerts to help them do their jobs better too. One scenario John described involved remote users working from home and using their own ISP to access the network. Using NetBeez, they were able to determine that in many cases the perceived “network problems” were, in fact, problems with the public internet instead. They had the traceroutes and data center pattern information to back this up. They got to say, “It’s not the network, and we have proof!”
In the future, they are considering having alerts go directly to the help desk ticketing application, but they are still in the mode of having engineers look at the alerts prior to doing that. They’ve found the NetBeez team to be very responsive to their requests for enhancements, and now John has some more cool ideas, such as providing a Mobile app and providing a private Twitter feed. More to come…