Kentik Review

Gives us critical, real-time visualization of our global backbone

What is our primary use case?

We use it almost exclusively for flow data. We use that for a variety of things from network optimization to network capacity to security events, including DDoS protection, etc.

We're using the SaaS version.

How has it helped my organization?

The drill-down into detailed views of network activity helps us to quickly pinpoint locations and causes. Anecdotally, it has decreased our mean time to remediation. On a per-incident basis, it could save anywhere from five minutes to 60 minutes.

We also believe it has improved our total network uptime. We haven't done any direct before-and-after comparison, though.

Again, anecdotally, it has sped up our security team's ability to respond to attacks that did not surface as readily, prior to having the flow log data.

What is most valuable?

One of the valuable features is the intuitive nature of building out reports, and then triggering actions based on specific metrics from those reports. It has a really good UI and the ability to surface data through the reporting functions is pretty good. That's helped a lot in the security space. If you get a massive, 100 GB attack coming through, saturating links, you can surface that really quickly and then act to engage DDoS protection or other mitigations from the IPS.

The real-time visibility across our network infrastructure is really good. One of the things that we love it for is our global backbone visualization. Being able to see that utilization in real-time is pretty critical for us.

It also proactively detects network performance degradation and things like availability issues and anomalies when used in concert with the SevOne network management system. In conjunction with that — with all of our polling and availability data coming from that NMS — the flow data provides that type of insight.

We also use Kentik's months of historical data for forensic work. We do 90 days.

What needs improvement?

I believe they're already working on this, but I would love for them to create better integrations from network flow data to application performance — tracing — so that we could overlay that data more readily. With more companies going hybrid, flow logs and flow data, whether it be VPC or on-prem, matched with application performance and trace data, is pretty important.

The other area would be supplanting companies like SevOne and other companies that are really good in the NMS space, specifically for SNMP data.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've had it since before I took over this space and took over Kentik, so 2017 is when the initial contract started. We're going on three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been very good. There was only one outage or impacting event that I can remember in the past year. It took them a couple of days to fix it, but the impact was remediated through some mitigation they did on their end to prevent it from causing us too much headache. They got it down to where it only affected some long-term reporting, which wasn't super-critical for us. It wasn't too big a deal.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

So far, Kentik has scaled for what we've done with it and we haven't hit any scale issues to date. I don't know if we're a very large user compared to some of their other customers so I don't know if we're a good example to discuss scale, per se. But we haven't encountered any scale issues from our side.

We don't have plans to expand the use of Kentik, other than increasing licenses to gather flow data for more devices. We buy per license and we have 75 or 100 licenses. The size of the teams that use it is 100 people or so. They are security engineers, network engineers, network health analysts, and threat-intelligence folks.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their tech support is phenomenal. They tell us about an issue before we even get to it.

With the incident that I mentioned in the context of the solution's stability, even before we experienced any issues relating to it, they had already reached out to us and let us know what was going on. They gave us some timelines, and the ongoing communication kept us informed throughout the incident and was able to mitigate any kerfuffle from the executive layer. That can be a giant headache when dealing with those types of situations, but they managed it perfectly and were proactive with their communication and we didn't hear a peep from anyone about it.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't involved in the initial setup, but there is time involved for us to set up the checks for the flow data and to set up the reports. Depending on what someone is setting up, it could take five minutes or it could take a couple of days. It just depends on what they're implementing with it.

What was our ROI?

I'm sure we have data available to show ROI but I don't have it available. Where Kentik is bringing us the most value is in the security realm, in terms of attack prevention, but ROI on that is hard to measure.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There have been other folks in our company who have tested a variety of things. Prior to Kentik they went through an evaluation phase, from what I understand, and vetted out a variety of solutions. I believe that what made Kentik stand out was pricing and the intuitive user-experience.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson in using Kentik is that as we continue to use it and learn more, we learn about the use cases that are valuable. Initially, when I came over to the team, we weren't using it to its fullest capabilities. As we started to understand the capabilities and dive in, in specific areas with Kentik engineers themselves for customer success, we learned that we needed to change our thought process a little bit; how we thought about flow logs and what they could provide insight into.

My advice would be to leverage their customer success engineers upfront and don't let them go until you've hit all your use cases. Constantly be in touch with them to understand what some of the forward-thinking ideas are and what some of the cutting-edge use cases are that their other customers might be getting into.

We don't make use of Kentik's ability to overlay multiple datasets, like orchestration, public cloud infrastructure, network paths, or threat data onto our existing data. That is something we're evaluating. We're currently talking with a couple of teams that are moving to AWS, teams that would like to use Kentik to potentially capture VPC flow logs and overlay that with their application performance data. That is something that is currently on-hold, pending some other priority work. We will probably dive back into that, with that team, around mid-2020.

For maintenance, it requires less than one full-time engineer because it's a SaaS model.

In terms of overall vendor partnership, I'd give Kentik a nine out of 10. They're right up there as one of my best partners to work with, amongst all the contracts that I own. They're very customer-centric. They're always available. There's nothing too small or too big that I can't ask them to help with, and they seem to be willing and able to jump in no matter what. That customer focus — which is a theme across the digital world right now with companies trying to try to do more of that — Kentik does a really good job of embodying that.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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