With a team of just three engineers and a network spanning the country, we required a solution that provided support for each location’s specific data centers, servers and storage without requiring a vast amount of engineering support. With hundreds of people on the network at any given time, identifying and troubleshooting end-user delays was an important and time-consuming issue for our engineering team. We needed visibility into each data center and the ability to quickly identify and segregate network issues from application problems.
With such a small team of engineers managing all the networking needs — from plugs, to wiring, to power — it was challenging for us to dedicate the required amount of time to troubleshooting end-user issues, especially with a user base spread across the country. It was nearly impossible for us to tell where an issue was coming from; was it a network problem? A smaller location based issue? We just didn’t have the visibility we needed to fix issues efficiently and still have time to dedicate to our other pressing projects.
In addition to normal internal network issues, we utilize many different applications throughout our three data centers, including a newly implemented video over IP capability that allows our geologists to stay on site and still participate in key company meetings. Because of the large number of internal and external applications running at any given time, in any location, our engineers were tasked with solving issues without any clear knowledge of the origin – whether network or application based.
Often problems would arise in Tulsa that had to be diagnosed and fixed from a different location. A large building and hundreds of different devices connecting to the server at any given time hindered the troubleshooting process and often non-vital issues were left unresolved and became the new normal end-user experience.
Our team also faced the challenge of managing third party, subscription-based applications that weren’t always performing up to standard. Conversations with vendors yielded few results and most users were left dealing with a slower, less efficient process.
We chose Fluke Networks OptiView XG to begin monitoring our biggest data center, located in Tulsa. The OptiView XG allowed our engineers to track the normal network use levels and establish a benchmark to compare degraded performance to. Currently, we use the OptiView XG mainly as a diagnostic tool, running continuously and conducting network assessments, validating new infrastructure and devices, testing service provider SLAs, and troubleshooting problems from end to end.
After our success using the OptiView XG, we expanded our Fluke Networks’ product line to include the Visual TruView. With TruView’s Application Performance Monitoring (APM) and Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) combined capabilities, we are able to identify, test and resolve issues across LAN, WAN or Cloud environments and across multiple data centers.
The entire team tested several different product solutions initially, but Fluke Networks provided the visibility we needed to make a discernable difference in our network performance and engineer time management. With the TruView, we’re able to identify an issue, zero in on the location and solve it quickly.
With the TruView and OptiView XG helping to streamline our networking troubleshooting process, our engineering team now has the ability to remotely identify, diagnose and resolve our connectivity problems.
Using Fluke Networks TruView and the OptiView XG together allow us to shed light on issues that pop up when managing a cross-country network. It gives the entire team insight we’ve never had before and enables us to differentiate between normal traffic and bigger problems. It’s a great tool for not only day-to-day network monitoring, but also troubleshooting and effectively leading us to issue resolution.
In one specific example, my team was called in to deal with an application problem reported by a group of users in Tulsa. It turned out the users were all on the 14th floor of the same building. The IT team first used the OptiView XG to eliminate some obvious potential causes with the network on that particular floor and then used TruView to see how the performance on that floor compared to other floors. With the network ruled out as the cause of the issue, TruView helped to identify a file server that had been configured improperly after a power outage.
In addition to dealing with our own internal network issues, Fluke Networks’ tools have allowed us to help identify and resolve third-party application issues as well.
In one instance, using the OptiView XG, our engineers were able to log into an end user’s machine, take a packet capture then decode it using Fluke Networks ClearSite Analyzer software, which showed specific metrics around application performance.
The data showed an application problem that was a surprise to the vendor. While they were able to fix the problem and improve the end user experience, without the conclusive data provided by the Fluke Networks tools, we may have been lost in an endless cycle of back-and-forth between the internal team and the application company.
Without Fluke Networks, we just wouldn’t have the same visibility. It’s an essential part of our network infrastructure.