Kentik Review

The Sankey flow diagram shows the path that the data takes through my network.

What is most valuable?

  • Dashboard visualization: I have come to rely on Kentik for a constantly refreshing view that I can quickly customize. There are a lot of graph options, including a flow diagram that shows how traffic has moved over our platform.

  • Kentik Detect: The Detect section of this product provides an excellent way to utilize flow in order to produce alerts. It is very flexible and allows for a number of interesting customizations.

  • Sankey flow diagram: It shows the path that the data takes through my network and in turn allowing me to troubleshoot many issues, without running through a crazy amount of device configs.

  • SQL query: You can directly query the database that Kentik keeps and, via API calls, make it something you can easily integrate into your own product or monitoring tools, or just to produce reports with metrics that might not be a Kentik feature yet.

How has it helped my organization?

We have put it on half of our large monitoring screens. Sometimes, it is actually easier to identify and attack incoming traffic using Kentik, than it is to use our own gear.

Even when we know what the traffic is, it allows us to jump directly into the next steps of our process more quickly, since we can visually see everything in one place and on one screen through the customizable dashboards.

Instead of just total traffic in bits or packets, we can get protocol, destination port, TCP flags; everything you might want.

What needs improvement?

Kentik has been remarkable at anticipating the design requirements of their customers. They have provided everything that I might want already. After using it for over six months constantly, I am still discovering new things.

The only times I’ve felt that “I wish I could use this to XYZ,” I’ve contacted support and it turns out that I can do that already. However, I just didn’t know if I could do it using the existing controls or via a combination of query types.

Perhaps a better explanation would be to see how tagging is captured and a method of comparing my tagged interfaces on Kentik’s side. Right now, I can go in and look at all of the interfaces that they’re receiving the flow for and also sort/filter it, but there is no way for me to easily compare them between my nodes. I need to add, though, that’s really not a missing feature of their product; it is just a way to help troubleshoot my own (potentially broken) systems.

I add the tags to my own devices, not them. However, if we’ve made a mistake on our side, it’s a basic row-by-row comparison. I believe there is a way to use their SQL query feature to pull a better comparison but a method of using the GUI would be nice.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used this solution for about 6-8 months. For five months, I have used it as a standard user. Now, my organization created a separate admin account for me, so in total I have used it for eight months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not experienced any stability issues. Other than the planned maintenance, which is short, it is always available and working great.

There have been a few very minor bugs; for instance, the auto-refresh was not working on the dashboards. When we notified them of it, they responded in less than an hour; they had replicated the issue and were working on a fix. A day later, it was done.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not scaled the product past the current level we are at. However, I don’t see that could ever be an issue. You just send them the flow from your devices.

If you’re scaling, you make sure your interfaces are sending the data and you're golden.

How are customer service and technical support?

The level of technical support is beyond any vendor that I have ever worked with before.

The service is totally hosted by Kentik, with a web portal and API. I have not had issues with it being available to use. I have not tried to get to it expecting it to be available and had it not load. Occasionally we’ll get an email or pop up notification on the Web UI that planned maintenance will take Kentik down for an hour or so, these come a few days in advance of the planned service.

The only issue we have had of a technical nature was with their dashboards. Dashboards are a custom page you build and layout manually with different “Data Explorer” queries, then you turn on auto-refresh and let it continue to build the graphs as time moves on. This auto-refresh feature stopped working after an update to the Kentik UI’s look and feel. When we noticed it was not functioning we sent them an email, they responded back quickly and told us they had replicated the issue and were going to work on a fix. It was the next day when they told us to try it again, and they had indeed fixed it already! I rarely get such prompt attention to an issue.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used SolarWinds in another company. You get a very simple, non-configurable type of view with green, yellow, red and ingress/egress numbers. It doesn’t compare to the analytical capabilities that Kentik has.

How was the initial setup?

It was set up before I joined this organization.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I am not a part of the purchasing or evaluation in any way. We still use Cacti for general stuff, but Kentik has replaced it on half of our boards so far.

What other advice do I have?

While I was not a part of the implementation, if you know how to set up NetFlow on your device, just point it at Kentik. They have another setup option for a sensor that lives in your network. I have only heard of it; never used it or spoken to anyone that has.

This product is easily the best network monitor that I’ve ever seen or heard about.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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