NETSCOUT nGeniusONE Review

Real-time data is great for our multiple network services and we get a unified view of applications

What is our primary use case?

We have multiple use cases such as for remote locations, the monitoring of critical applications, and the WAN network. Apart from that, we use it for security alerts, to give us visibility into unknown traffic. I used to do integration with multiple different platforms to monitor critical storage sites for the business. 

Those are the key factors so that we can identify what traffic is passing across our remote sites.

How has it helped my organization?

If an outage happens, the tool helps us to identify the performance of the specific application and enables us to identify the issue. It helps improve our mean time to repair.

nGeniusONE has also been able to reduce outage time. Whenever there is an outage, it's quickly able to identify it and, without pointing fingers, we can prove that it is not the network environment. It helps us understand there is another reason and helps us move towards other areas for troubleshooting and fixing issues. That's a major factor where the tool is helping in applications that have the most business impact. We're able to diagnose and fix issues at the earliest, while avoiding large outage times and the associated business loss.

The solution transforms packet wire data into real-time data that is ready to act on. That's great for our multiple network services because it provides more insight into aggregation areas, and gives a unified view of the applications. From the application point of view, ultimately we need to discover the applications and configure it and then explore the options. This is a difference between network services and application services, but I'm most involved with network services.

It also definitely provides the right people in our organization with the right information in a single-pane-of-glass view. That's 100 percent true. We have different infrastructures from different vendors. If we had just Cisco, for example, we would only need to focus on the different Cisco tools. But with Bluecoat or Symantec, we need to focus on their tools. Because of TCP/IP, we can measure all the packet data in a single dashboard and we can show it in a single, unified view of all different infrastructures.

Another advantage is the increased visibility while conducting an IT deployment. Wherever we have the internet streams running across, we can see the entire site; what is happening and what other things are going on. We get more insight from the usual wired or wireless data.

Using it we also get to root cause quickly. We have massive business transactions happening continuously during the Christmas season. We were able to have increased traffic loads. However, the business transactions were also dependent on our vendors. If a vendor was unable to handle that much traffic load, we were able to prove, with the help of nGenius' reporting module, what number of transactions were crossing the network and which ones the vendor rejected.

We have also seen an increase in application uptime. For one or two applications it's 50 to 60 percent better.

And to some extent it has consolidated tools, however not at the application level. Rather, it has done so at the TCP or packet level. The consolidation has definitely saved us money, on the order of 20 to 30 percent.

In addition, when it comes to visibility across IT silos, the solution helps to bridge the gap between the application folks and the network folks. The network folks have always been siloed within the network infrastructure, and the application folks have also been siloed in the different components. NETSCOUT helps to bring every team into the single pane of glass to identify and isolate who is missing data across the applications or the infrastructure.

What is most valuable?

It's a consolidated, single tool that talks to multiple platforms. It's not vendor-proprietary; it's independent. Its provides interoperability with different products, whether they are routing products, switching products, wireless, wired, load balancing, or proxy. It works with anything you can name. 

It's TCP/IP-based which is helpful for us to interact with any TCP/IP platform and capture the data and provide visibility to the teams.

The solution’s ability to transform packet wire data into well-structured, contextual data,
on a scale of one to 10, is an eight, because it supports that interoperability. There is no dependency on a specific vendor or platform. It interacts with multiple vendors. That's a key factor that other tools are not able to provide. We have other tools within our environment, but this tool helps us to collect the packet data and transform it into a more readable, graphical format. That helps us make a quick decision within any type of project.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see improvement in the user experience. It's hard to manage it. We need a dedicated, highly-qualified person, compared to similar tools. Obviously, it's in a higher bracket, salary-wise. That's something the NETSCOUT team needs to focus on. It's a completely niche-skill technology, where we need to have the skills to manage, maintain, and deploy it.

When it comes to implementation, if they could provide some templates or some suggestions it would be helpful because this is a complex solution. Perhaps NETSCOUT could offer predefined Professional Services through which they could guide companies. In our scenario, I and my team have complete expertise for most of the things that are involved, and we were able to do it. But for other companies, if NETSCOUT could come up with some templates or some guidelines in Professional Services, it would be great in helping to get the solution deployed.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NETSCOUT nGeniusONE for more than six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is great. It's a solid rock.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From the solution point of view, the licensing and architecture are scalable, but for hardware, when there is physical infrastructure, they probably need to improve on large-scale deployment. They need to focus on how a large number of databases can be effectively managed. And they need to improve the performance of the hardware.

We have between 10 and 15 teams using the solution. Each team's role is NOC support or SOC and, on the business team, there are people doing capacity analysis and people using it for reporting. For deployment and maintenance of the solution there are three or four involved, who are tool administrators.

We're using it fully in our organization. It's covering more than 90 percent. Increased usage depends on the infrastructure visibility. We may look at some expansion, but not immediately.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support team, during and since deployment, has been great; a nine out of 10. They stepped up whenever we required them, no matter what. They have provided feedback and support and have helped us.

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

nGeniusONE is the first solution we have used in this area.

How was the initial setup?

I'm the architect of the complete solution. I ran the entire process from day one. I designed and deployed and have operated it, and it's a little bit complex. 

When we started doing the network deployment,the architecture, we needed to understand the enterprise architecture and where the main NETSCOUT deployment needed to capture it. It was not only in a specific area. It was all the applications relying on the packet data. It included on-premises, off-premises, remote sites, and cloud. It was capturing on a large, enterprise-level scale. We had to understand the architecture and then understand the application dependency then design the NETSCOUT solution accordingly. 

And, when rolling out everything, since it was not greenfield but brownfield, we needed to figure out the proper maintenance windows to not impact any of the production applications. Then we had to start educating the users how to use it and where to use it. After architecting it and deploying it, a large proportion of the focus was on bringing the users into the picture to make them familiar with the solution.

Deployment can take between six months and one year, in an environment like ours.

NETSCOUT provided some basic training through their portal, but since everything has gone live on the production system, we have also had some engagements with some of the NETSCOUT folks to get some assistance.

What about the implementation team?

We have made on and off use of the NETSCOUT team. 

What was our ROI?

We save a lot of time. Before the solution was deployed, the teams used to spend more than a day on root cause analysis, and now they're spending only a couple of hours, and they're more aware of the next activities.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licensing is flexible, it's not tied to anything else. We can easily switch up the licensing piece. Pricing is something that our budget team takes care of. Obviously, NETSCOUT is a little bit in the higher range, but it gives you value for money. You get what you pay for.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did evaluate other solutions but NETSCOUT was better for our infrastructure.

What other advice do I have?

With the visibility of the packet data, we can do whatever we need to do. It might be for the NOC or the SOC, but it helps our operations. We can dive into it and drill down into the information. Also, packet data was just packet data when we were using Wireshark, but when it comes to NetScout it provides business data as well. We can show actual numbers to the business team so they can understand and judge the quality of the network and the quality of the applications. We can show them solid proof with the data.

The automatic discovery and mapping of client-server relationships is a six or seven out of 10. It doesn't discover everything, but with it we do get some automatic discovery with the client-server. It doesn't get 100 percent of the data from the environment.

In terms of the dependency maps for visualizing the current state of the service and application environment, there are some limitations to the discovery maps due to our being a large enterprise. But if I focus on a small, specific area, it's great. It's able to discover the application dependencies and services dependencies, which have been used in that one, specific environment. For smaller areas, it's great, but for the larger portion of the infrastructure, it doesn't help a lot, so I need to break it down into individual areas.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**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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