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Category Archives: Network Monitoring

Shiny New NetPath Services

With network visibility being all the rage now, any tool that expands insight into what packets are doing is a beautiful thing. Netpath, new in Solarwinds NPM 12, does just that.

Watching the beginning of the presentation at NFD13, you might start to think this is just traceroute with pretty pictures – but that’s not all there is to this story.  The probes that Solarwinds uses aren’t just your standard run-of-the-mill icmp traceroute packets. Instead, these probes behave like the “real” network traffic you are trying to track, meaning they are less likely to be dropped by firewalls and other devices along the path.

It’s worth noting that NetPath is for TCP traffic only now, but assuming it’s TCP paths you want to investigate, you can assign a poller from your Solarwinds server or you can even install a polling agent on a Windows machine located closest to the source of the traffic that you want to investigate. Say you have a remote site that intermittently reports slowness with certain websites, with Netpath you can now observe traffic behavior from the site in question, giving you valuable information in resolving those vague and highly detestable “the network is slow” complaints.

Out of the box- or for me, after the upgrade of NPM to 12, you have a preconfigured poller for Google that looks something like this:

googleservice1

Which, when activated results in a path diagram that looks something like this:

googlepath

 

From there, it’s pretty easy to set up other pollers for your traffic of interest.

Last, but certainly not least, if you happen to own the NCM product as well, NetPath will also let you know if there have been any recent config changes to nodes NCM manages. Being able to correlate poor performance to a recent config change to a node along the path is to me is icing on the delicious networking visibility cake. Mmmmm, cake…

Jody Lemoine wrote an excellent post on Packet Pushers on NetPath services,I highly recommend checking it out for more details on this network monitoring goodness. Check out all the videos from Solarwinds at Network Field Day 13 here. Chris O’Brien does a really good job of explaining some of the magic behind the sauce used for these probes in this video if you are interested in details of the probe secret sauce –  loads of nerdy networking awesomeness.

Published 12/5/2016

Disclaimer: While Networking Field Day, which is sponsored by the companies that present, was very generous to invite me to this fantastic event and I am very grateful for it, my opinions are totally my own, as all redheads are far too stubborn to have it any other way

 

 

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Runt Post: Quality troubleshooting, what it looks like

In my previous post, I shared some of the cool stuff ThousandEyes is doing with VoIP.  I also wanted to draw attention to this cool video of Mohit Lad, co-founder and CTO of ThousandEyes, using his own product to troubleshoot an outage event on the fly: http://vimeo.com/105805525

There are very few ways to show off your product better than this type of demonstration. Mohit troubleshoots with expertise, clearly in his element. The tools cater well to his methodical troubleshooting process and both are quite impressive. Plus the routing loop he finds is just darn cool.

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Watch it, you’ll love watching a master at work, I know I did.

Published: 9/26/2014

Disclaimer: While Networking Field Day, which is sponsored by the companies that present, was very generous to invite me to this fantastic event and I am very grateful for it, my opinions are totally my own, as all redheads are far too stubborn to have it any other way.

 

 

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All Eyes on voice…

ThousandEyes announced something they called “new and shiny” at Networking Field Day 8 and it definitely caught my attention – not just because the word shiny was used* – but also because voice was the target of the announcement. I am quite used to being the literal and figurative red headed stepchild at networking events due to my involvement in that oh-so-unsavory world of voice** – but this Networking Field Day, voice got some well deserved attention.

ThousandEyes makes a product that via the use of Enterprise and Cloud Agents – those are active probes set out and about in your network, SaaS networks, and around the globe, you can gather some extremely detailed information regarding network performance, even when you don’t own all the pieces of the infrastructure along the path.

ThousandEyes is now leveraging that capability to ease the pain that is voice troubleshooting.  Using probes that emulate RTP traffic, you can gather data that can be used for capacity and voice quality planning purposes, as well as for troubleshooting voice performance issues.

Say you are planning to bring a new site online and route voice to and from this new branch.  Now you can collect detailed information that shows you how much this will suck (or perhaps not suck) *before* you go and purchase all the equipment for your design.

Say you are having trouble with voice between already established sites. This solution can help you identify capacity issues, jitter issues, and even DSCP remarking issues.  That last one really makes me smile.  How often is voice wrecked just because consistent QoS isn’t applied across all devices in the network?  No need to answer that out loud, we all know…

So here’s an idea of what a voice test creation would look like.  You can see there is a codec selection option, DSCP setting, and even a de-jitter buffer option that can be tweaked for the testing.

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Below is an idea of what kind of data is being presented back. I really like that you can jump to the BGP path visualization and other layer tools just as usual with the product. Feel free to watch the short video here for the full show and tell.

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Now it’s important to remember that this isn’t actually running tests on “real” calls being made in your network. While ThousandEyes makes a point of crafting probes to look and feel as much like actual application traffic as possible, it’s still not a live call.  I did ask about workflow integration with some tool like Wireshark or something similar and got a to-be-continued type answer.  In my vision, you would set alerts when thresholds were met that would kick off capture processes of live calls. Then you would correlate the .pcap files with this data to get a complete picture of the network. That way when the Director’s call to his beloved Aunt Erna drops and he wants to blame your really expensive phone system, you will have plenty of evidence to suggest that Aunt Erna just hasn’t mastered the art of speaker phone on her cell. Talk about a happy world.

Published 9/22/2014

*using the word shiny is a pretty good way to get my attention.  Using actual things that are shiny, even better.

**hating on voice is a well-known pastime for those engineers too afraid to touch it. 😉

Disclaimer: While Networking Field Day, which is sponsored by the companies that present, was very generous to invite me to this fantastic event and I am very grateful for it, my opinions are totally my own, as all redheads are far too stubborn to have it any other way.

 

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