What is our primary use case?
One use case that we purchased it for is deep packet inspection at a 10-gig level. Prior to that, we only had deep packet inspection up to one gig.
We are utilizing the tool right now for deep packet inspection, and for everyday dashboard monitoring to show our customers what their current traffic is, how their everyday business needs are consuming their traffic, and what kind of traffic is specifically on their network.
Also, the nGeniusONE is providing TAPs for all of our core traffic and is sending it to our security team for them to sort through and look for security risks. That is actually probably the single biggest purpose we're using it for.
How has it helped my organization?
We did a big shift in how we do some of our internal business. To see what the impact would be, we got a baseline of our day-to-day traffic and performance. Then, as we did a proof of concept of the new solution that we were working on, we could see how much that was going to change our performance and our growth, per user, and that enabled us to ramp up bandwidth and resources as needed for that big change.
We wouldn't have been able to prepare our network in a way that would have kept everything functioning properly, without that information.
What is most valuable?
There are so many valuable features. Deep packet inspection is probably the strongest, but also its ability to slab certain traffic and give visibility into traffic at an application-layer level.
The way that our company is set up, we provide that type of information to the agencies we support. They're basically our customers - government agencies - and they want to know information about their applications' performance, and the health of their applications, usage, troubleshooting, etc.
In addition, it is user-friendly.
What needs improvement?
The areas it covers are so vast that the improvement would be in the user's understanding of what it can do. Having that information available to customers more easily might be helpful, although I believe it is available to customers easily through their website.
There are so many pieces of their product that integrate with one another that perhaps a recommendation for improvement would be some sort of bigger overview and map to help understand how all their pieces integrate together. On the plus side, they always have resources available, instantly, when you have a question about it. It's not like that information can't be found.
For how long have I used the solution?
Three to five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's very stable. We've never had any problems with it.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The newer technology scales very well, especially in the virtual environment. Some of the hardware that I purchased four or five years ago, since it's a hardware-based system, limits how it can grow and scale. But truthfully, five years for a deep packet inspection tool like this is quite good.
There are some hardware components that communicate to the nGeniusONE that I'm likely to be upgrading within the next few years. My traffic has grown to the point where I need more and, since it's hardware-based, it can only scale so far.
nGeniusONE itself scales very well. It's cloud-based.
We are moving to a virtualized environment in our data center, and NETSCOUT is making very scalable nGenius solutions so that we'll have some virtual instances of it. Our plan is to expand that into our virtualized environment and be able to have some inspection of the traffic that stays in our data center. We've already started that process. Our bottleneck is the internal resources to do it. It will probably be done by the end of next year.
How are customer service and technical support?
We have a relationship with a NETSCOUT engineer, so I usually just email him or call him, or email or call our rep, and they get us an engineer right away. I think that type of direct relationship with an engineer at NETSCOUT is a common scenario because in speaking with him, he talks about similar interaction with other customers in this region.
I have used their support via a ticket. Their response is quick, and they usually just get us right over to the local engineer. It can usually be resolved without escalating.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We used a solution by SolarWinds, and we also used a solution by another provider. We realized we needed to change when we had a distributed denial of services attack that spanned greater than one gig.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was straightforward. They had a lot of automation in place that could take configuration files, etc., and automatically incorporate them into their system. The way that the tool communicates using normal SNMP communication made it a super-easy install. It was very easy to get online.
I have a hardware version of it here, and with getting everything wrapped and cabled and connected, we had it online in about three days.
We had an implementation strategy mostly because we had a business case on what we wanted it for. So we had a strategic plan in place to get it up and running and providing us the information we needed as quickly as possible. We proposed the strategic plan to NETSCOUT and their Professional Services were able to meet everything that we needed.
There were three people involved in the deployment. We had the NETSCOUT Professional Services engineer, and we had two resources from my company, one of whom was really just a backup. Their roles were to deliver the strategic plan to the NETSCOUT engineer and to receive onsite training as services were turned up.
What about the implementation team?
We had Professional Services help us with it and it was a breeze. It was easy to set up. Their Professional Services were the only ones needed.
What was our ROI?
For the business case that I mentioned above, when we took a baseline of our traffic to show the changes and the differences, there was a big return on investment.
But giving our customers the power to have some visibility into their own traffic has been a huge return on investment. Not only are they able to identify their needs and their growth, and take up less of my resources' time to do an investigation into what they need - so it has saved resource time; but we're also able to identify their growth patterns at an earlier time, so we're not spending money on things that will need to be replaced.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Their pricing is very competitive with other solutions. I'm getting to the point to where I'm going to have to upgrade my licensing level, and it's a pretty big hop. But what I like about NETSCOUT's licensing is that it's shared across all their platforms. They don't create a new licensing scheme for every one of their products. So for nGeniusONE, you buy a certain license level and it works on all of their products.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
There were plenty of other options, other things that we were looking at. We looked at trying to accomplish the same thing with tools we already owned like SolarWinds vs nGeniusONE.
We went with nGeniusONE because NETSCOUT's roadmap in development met some of the strategic things we were trying to accomplish.
What other advice do I have?
The advice I would like to have if I was implementing it for the first time is to have a good understanding of what you're trying to accomplish; not for one single thing, but for all the things that you would like to accomplish. Then, plan and design your NETSCOUT purchase accordingly so you're not just doing one piece here and one piece there and then trying to figure out the integration later.
In hindsight, NETSCOUT engineers have been really good at helping us put those pieces together, but it would have been helpful to spin it all up at the same time and to have had it strategically set up to move us to the future, where we needed to go.
If you count all of our customers we probably have over 100 people using it. Their roles include network operations, security operations, network engineering, and we have our agency monitoring.
Some of the shortcomings that we've had with our NETSCOUT products have been because of our own internal resources, not because of the product. We just don't have the time or the bandwidth to implement some of the things that we need. With that being said, I would give NETSCOUT a ten out of ten.
Proactively manage your network traffic
Find out how nGeniusONE can help you to gain greater visibility into your network and keep things running as they should. Contact NETSCOUT to get more information.