Network Engineering

Detecting Network Problems Before Users Do

By | Network Engineering, Network Monitoring, Troubleshooting | No Comments

In a perfect world, telecommunication networks have 100% uptime, low latency, and high bandwidth. In reality, each one of us deals with slow applications, choppy calls, and unreliable connections. In WiFi networks, this is even more frequent.

Yet, providing a good end-user experience is possible. Detecting problems before users do is not a fortune teller’s trick, but something that can be achieved with the right tools and processes in place. So how can Network Engineers achieve Zen for their networks? Read More

How to Run a NetBeez Agent on Windows 10

By | Network Engineering, Network Monitoring | No Comments

Around a year ago Microsoft released a Windows Insider Preview that included the ability to run a native Bash on Ubuntu. I was really excited about it, since I wouldn’t have to use things like Cygwin on my PC anymore and, more importantly, I could run any Debian package on my Windows machine. I immediately installed the Bash console, but I was disappointed within the first minute: basic commands like “ifconfig” didn’t work. I didn’t pay attention to Microsoft’s warning that the Bash console was in Beta.

A year and several releases later, the Bash console that I just tested on Windows version 10.0.15063 is much more complete to the point that a NetBeez agent can be installed on it.

Why is this important? It gives the ability to install a NetBeez agent on an actual user’s PC, so if you need to offer support or investigate any performance issues you can do it by getting data from the actual user’s machine. Below are the steps to install a NetBeez agent on Windows.

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Ethernet Performance Monitoring

By | Network Engineering, Network Monitoring | No Comments

Ethernet Performance MonitoringRecently, I had a brief discussion on performance monitoring with a network engineer that works for an Internet Service Provider. After showing him a product tour of NetBeez, he mentioned that he could do the same with Ethernet performance tools (e.g. ITU-T Y.1731), which are available on most networking platforms, without the need of deploying additional hardware or software probes.

To support his statement, the network engineer mentioned that his requirements were to monitor individual Ethernet links, or portions of the overall network. I agreed with him that, for that specific use case, Ethernet performance monitoring was the right solution.

However, I reminded him that most enterprises and service providers that we work with use NetBeez to measure the end-user experience, and that Ethernet performance monitoring only runs at Layer 2. For this reason, the best way to monitor the network from the end-user perspective, is to use Layer 3+ protocols that allow to run true end-to-end connectivity and performance tests against cloud applications, WiFi networks, and other services offered to users. This is not possible with Ethernet performance monitoring tools. If you want read more about this topic, please check out this blog post that I wrote few weeks ago.

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iPerf Performance Testing on Single Board Computers

By | Network Engineering, Network Monitoring, Troubleshooting | No Comments

I have done iPerf performance comparisons in the past between several well known single board computers (SBCs), which you can see here, and more recently, here. The most popular SBC is the Raspberry Pi, but its limitation is that it has a 10/100 interface, and the maximum traffic it can push is about 95 Mbps. The SBCs with gigabit interfaces I tested in the past, Odroid C1+, Banana Pi, Utilite Standard, couldn’t achieve 1 Gbps as receivers or transmitters of iPerf traffic. Recently, I came across the Odroid C2 and Up Board, which can achieve 1 Gbps iPerf bandwidth in both directions. Read More

Meetups for Network Engineers

By | Network Engineering, Resources | No Comments

Meetups for network engineersUnless you’ve lived in a cave for the past ten years (and if you have, I totally respect that), you are most likely familiar with meetups. Meetups are planned events where members regularly get together to network and talk about a particular topic that they are interested in. It could be a sport, a language, a discipline, etc. Currently, there are more than 270,000 meetups in 182 countries, for a total number of 30+ million of members. That’s pretty significant.

If you’re interested in meeting with other network engineers, then you should know that there are several meetup groups around the country that are focused on network engineering. All you have to do is go on, search for a topic of interest in your area, and then follow the group guidelines on how to become a member. Some groups are open, while others may require permission or vetting from the organizer. If you don’t know where to start, here is a list of the most prominent meetups that may appeal to network engineers:
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How to monitor your enterprise network

By | Network Engineering, Network Monitoring, Raspberry Pi, Wireless monitoring | No Comments

Network monitoring agents
Enterprise networks
are evolving at a fast pace, and with them, so are network monitoring techniques. If you are monitoring your network with an SNMP collector, you have already realized that it’s not enough to detect and troubleshoot problems experienced  by the end-users. You can read more about how the network monitoring stack has evolved over time in a previous blog post I wrote here.

Nowadays, network engineers must be aware at any time, and from any network location, about end-to-end performance metrics. Information about  packet loss, network latency, and wireless signal strength is necessary to understand whether the network is delivering a good experience or causing  application slowness. This information can be easily achieved with network monitoring sensors.
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How do you support employees working from home?

By | Network Monitoring, Product, Troubleshooting | No Comments

Working from home has its pros and cons. One of the negatives is that technical support is much more difficult. Employees working from home use their own local ISPs and each one of them uses a different modem. Chances are that they use a wireless router, which could be provided by the ISP or installed independently. Most likely, the employees need to use tools like Salesforce and Office 365, or custom applications that run either in the cloud or in a private datacenter.

When home-based employees can’t access the tools they need or experience “slowness”, they are quick to open a ticket with technical support. The environmental variables mentioned above make troubleshooting difficult. The main problem is the lack of visibility in the employee’s home environment. You will either guide the employee to run some tests for them (e.g. ping, traceroute) and email them the results back (if possible), or do a remote desktop session to begin troubleshooting.
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Is it the wireless, the wired network… or something else causing this latency increase?

By | Distributed network monitoring, Network Engineering, Network Monitoring, Troubleshooting | No Comments

NetBeez captures network and application performance from the user perspective on wired and wireless networks. Sensors at each network location run tests and simulate the user experience. We have dozens of demo NetBeez agents deployed around the country and the world and we collect some interesting data. Here is what I discovered recently while troubleshooting a NetBeez alert.

A typical NetBeez setup has a pair of agents, one wired and one wireless, at each office in order to capture the performance of both networks. Read More

Remote WiFi Packet Capturing with HORST on Raspberry Pi and Odroid

By | Network Monitoring, Troubleshooting, Wireless monitoring | No Comments

The Highly Optimized Radio Scanning Tool (HORST) is a lightweight IEEE802.11 WLAN analyzer. It was build for troubleshooting WLAN networks, and although it’s not as advanced as other tools (Kismet, Wireshark, tcpdump) it’s very easy to use, free, and can run very efficiently even on a Raspberry Pi.

For the installation and usage details, please see HORST on GitHub.

If you attended WLPC 2017, you have an Odroid that has HORST preinstalled and a USB WiFi Module. (Thanks to WLPC and Jerry Olla for the excellent Maker Session!) You are ready to run HORST! Just log in and type horst. In general, you should be able to install HORST on any Linux Single Board Computer (SBC). Read More