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Accedian Skylight OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Accedian Skylight is #12 ranked solution in APM tools and #23 ranked solution in best Network Monitoring Tools. IT Central Station users give Accedian Skylight an average rating of 10 out of 10. Accedian Skylight is most commonly compared to ThousandEyes:Accedian Skylight vs ThousandEyes. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 35% of all views.
What is Accedian Skylight?

Accedian provides performance analytics and end user experience solutions for on-premise, cloud and hybrid IT infrastructures. Accedian SkylightTM delivers unified network and application performance monitoring (NAPM) visibility across the entire application and network chain, with best in class resolution and velocity. This enables Accedian customers to assure their business-critical digital infrastructure and unlock the full productivity of their users.

Accedian Skylight is also known as Accedian SkyLIGHT PVX, SkyLIGHT PVX, SecurActive, Performance Vision.

Accedian Skylight Buyer's Guide

Download the Accedian Skylight Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

Accedian Skylight Customers

T-Systems, Thomson Reuters, Bordeaux Metropole, CGI, Citadelle Regional Hospital Center, Lorraine Institute of Oncology, Luxembourg Institute of Health, Groupe BPCE, Group S, Splitpoint, Horus-Net, Audatex, Indexis, Province de Liège, EASI, Spie Batignolles, Faymonville

Accedian Skylight Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Accedian Skylight pricing:
  • "The pricing of Accedian Skylight is really good. The sensors are low cost. Their model to analytics for sensors is by license, endpoint, or session. With the probes for their analytics, if they get deployed virtually, they are free. The licensing is only based on flows. So, you can effectively deploy probes everywhere in your network. Then, if you want to look at a specific type of traffic, you can enter into it with a very low cost license. You can just use things like spam ports, mirrors, TAPs, and aggregators to optimize what sort of traffic you send to these analysis tools. Then, if you want to start looking at more, you can up your licensed as you go. You are not getting forced into expensive appliances or subscription models."
  • "It provides value and the cost is not huge."
  • "The pricing is cheaper than other competing products, which is better for our budgets."

Accedian Skylight Reviews

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Dom Fitzgibbon
Director at PlexNet Pty Ltd
Reseller
Top 5
Solves network issues quickly, saving engineering time

Pros and Cons

  • "It is about finding operational problems. When sites go down, we try to determine who is at fault. While there is not much finger-pointing, the solution is just trying to analyse when there is an outage and where do we start looking to fix it. The very nature of why organization chooses to use the solution is to accelerate the meantime to resolution and find where problems lie to get them rectified as quickly as possible."
  • "I would like to see some improvements in parts of their synthetic transactions, which includes all the latency, jitter, and throughput. I would like to see some Layer 7 analytics in there. I want to be able to do a DNS request, HTTP GET request, or even SIP call point-to-point or via registration."

What is our primary use case?

We are a company who specializes in analytics, both testing and analysis. We get involved in DDI: DNS-DHCP-IPAM. We do a lot of stress testing, protocol testing, and protocol analysis, so we use a number of different tools. We typically try to promote to our clients best of breed type products.

At the moment, we have a demo system with the whole suite. That would be VCX and PVX. We are using the Skylight centres to do link testing as well as analytics for multi-office simulations. So, we have set up a demo system within our lab to talk to a couple of home offices as well as look at traffic coming into our own office. Therefore, we have some setups that we can demo to our clients who want to do similar sorts of things, e.g., people who want to be able to text links or look at jitter and latency from one site to another.

Typically, people who have multi-office/multi-sites want to be able to link test and understand the latencies between each site. First, they want to be able to understand if there are any throughput issues. Second, from an analytics perspective, they look at application network performance from a centralised perspective.

We use it for demonstration purposes to provide solutions to our clients looking for this level of analytics and level of testing. That is our primary goal. While we use it to look at our own networks, it is mainly there as a demonstration type of tool. We have a number of tools that we use for demoes. This is just one of them. However, the fact that we have a demo system to show people is also the way we look at analysing our own network. We can look where things are being held up or being impacted, such as cloud apps, on our own in-house environment as well as at our connection to our public service provider.

We have a public cloud instance for all our other probes or SFPs. Then, everything else is on-premise, VM deployment. For example, even our PVX analyser is sitting as a VM. So, we have one big server that is partitioned out with different VMs to handle all different parts of the Accedian suite.

How has it helped my organization?

We are dealing with a couple of organizations who are using Skylight sensors, so the SFP based analytics to look at multi-sites. 

There is a large supermarket chain looking to invest and put into deployment a lot of sensors to look at different store performance, trying to understand latencies between stores, packet loss, and why certain applications are having issues. They are really looking into the link metrics of latency jitter, packet loss, and response times for multiple sites and stores to give them some insight into performance of networks, since one of the things they have got to work out is, "Do their internal networks have a problem? Is it their external networks? If it is their external networks, does it have anything to do with them, their edge devices, or is it the carrier who has the issue?" It is about the finding the demarcation between internal edge and carrier problems to understand who is at fault. This is sort of an example of where our customers get some value out of the solution.

It is about finding operational problems. When sites go down, we try to determine who is at fault. While there is not much finger-pointing, the solution is just trying to analyse when there is an outage and where do we start looking to fix it. The very nature of why organization chooses to use the solution is to accelerate the meantime to resolution and find where problems lie to get them rectified as quickly as possible.

It helps optimize productivity and downtime. Before our clients used this sort of stuff, the downtime was sort of an unknown problem. People were doing silly things with Wireshark traces trying to work stuff out. The hard part was finding out what the problem was. There was meantime trying to understand what the issue was, then trying to solve it. We have cut down that scenario of trying to work out where the problem is, which is obviously a benefit to our clients who use Accedian sensors.

What is most valuable?

We use the whole suite. The Skylights centres are doing a lot of the regular work. Looking at site-to-site latency between home offices and the office, it is sort of running every 10 seconds getting some analytics. That's giving us a really good understanding of our networks and network speeds from our home offices to a central point. We are sort of testing the performance of the service and our service providers at the same time as looking at connectivity between two or three sites. 

We are using Skylight PVX to do analytics for application performance and troubleshooting.

A lot of the stuff that we have seen from Accedian, especially where they're heading, they are trying to amalgamate a couple of different products from acquisition and different technologies into one centralized GUI. Even though there is a bit of a difference between both GUIs, we find that the widget type based GUI is really easy to use, as it's informative. You can graph overlay as well as do statistics. It is also really handy with the Skylight PVX analytics and their dashboards. They already have some standard dashboards quite useful for giving you a good 1,000-foot overview type of scenario.

Accedian's deep dive tool set is a slightly different GUI, because you are sort of changing the GUI on the deep dive, but it is very detailed and you can drill right into the heart of the whole conversation, having a look at all sorts of metrics, retransmissions, TCP problems, etc.

The analytics are really good because the analytic engine is good, and they are working in the right direction with it. 

They have their security working well. They have a security plugin going into Splunk, which is good.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see some improvements in parts of their synthetic transactions, which includes all the latency, jitter, and throughput. I would like to see some Layer 7 analytics in there. I want to be able to do a DNS request, HTTP GET request, or even SIP call point-to-point or via registration. 

They don't have Layer 4 to Layer 7 elements, which I would love to see, because we are being asked to give people so much, e.g. network latency. network throughput, jitter, Layer 3 and 4 type metrics, and stateful traffic (to understand state fully). For example, we have seen jitter and packet loss. How is that actually affecting a real application, TCP, PCP windowing, resizing, and are we going back into a slow start? I'd really like to see that sort of stuff. We've done a lot of testing in the environment of Layer 4 to Layer 7 from a stress testing perspective. We would love to see that sort of synthetic transaction being brought into the Accedian toolset because that would probably give them a more complete picture of everything network and application if we could do synthetic transactions.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started using it at the beginning of the year, just as COVID-19 started to crash down on us.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability seems to be fine. We haven't had any issues with our staff or demo staff. We probably tend to fiddle more than other people. The thing about using demo labs is that you tend to sort of put those environments under a bit of stress, because you're changing, deleting, and reorganizing things sometimes for different sorts of views. However, from a reliability and stability side of things, you don't have to sit there and reboot your browser, refresh your screen, or reboot boxes. It has been pretty much turn it on and keep on going.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't come anywhere near the performance limits of the tool. You can put multiple VMs to handle multiple flows, so it's ultimately scalable. Skylight sensors with SFPs can be rolled out with as many as you want. It comes down to what your license is. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't had to use the technical support that much. When I've gone in and spoken to support, it's been really quick. Locally, there are SE guys here that can look after us. Everything we ask for, we get answered quickly and efficiently. There are no dramas from a support perspective.

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

Their UI is actually similar in some ways to what we used to use in a product called TruView from Fluke Networks. That was a really good product that unfortunately, when NETSCOUT bought them, they killed off. They really dropped the ball on that.

We came from using Fluke Networks and some other tools. We were involved in NETSCOUT, but moved away from them because the solution was troublesome and problematic to scale out easily and build for customers, who were getting frustrated with it. So, we found Accedian tends to be quite easy to use. The troubleshooting aspect of it is all there. With the troubleshooting, you don't have to go and configure from scratch the troubleshooting views and easy ways of looking at troubleshooting, as you do with some other tools, especially the NETSCOUT type of tools, where you have to build all the dashboards yourself. The standard dashboards and troubleshooting information are really easy to use. 

How was the initial setup?

It is quite straightforward and very simple to set up.

We were having some issues setting up a couple of centres because we have NAT firewalls. We were having some issues getting connectivity to some of them. Therefore, we were using Accedian to look at other problems in Accedian to troubleshoot, e.g., what ports are being requested to be opened, then work out some of the firewall NAT rules. So, we actually used Accedian to check out Accedian. It was extremely easy to use for troubleshooting.

If you want to start looking at different types of metrics or adding a site, you just have to program it up in SFP, send it out to site, get someone to plug it in, and redo it. So, if you want to start putting more sites in, you could probably do that relatively quickly. If you want to start looking from an analytics perspective of doing more detailed analysis, setting up IP ranges for different sites and types of applications, then that would take a little bit of time.

Generally, even in dashboard creation and certain dashboard configurations, you might want to do a little tweaking. You could probably spend another two or three days just doing the finer points, but the beauty about it is all the data is there and been collected. You can basically push in the new definitions and get that information back into it anyway. You are not losing data, as it's all been collected. It's just a different way of viewing it. After that, once you've got it going, it's set and forget unless you want to change to a different type of application, roll out a new application, or have a different site coming online. 

What about the implementation team?

We did the installation of four VMs in a cloud environment. Accedian set up the cloud environment. They give you the credentials, then it's just a username and password. Once you're in, then you're in, and it's just a matter of setting up all the VMs, which either com as VMware or KVM to download and install. You pretty much open up your virtual machine, import your VM file, and away you go. It's pretty easy. 

Usernames and passwords are all defaulted so it is just a matter of getting in and setting IP addresses up, whether you want to be DHCP or static. Once they are up, you apply a license and you're running. We set up four or five VMs in the morning once the cloud account was set up, then we pretty much had traffic running through it within a day.

To get our whole demo lab up and running, it took me a day. I set it up myself. I got the VMs provided to me by the team that provides the download links.

The download links were quick. We were all running on 100 Mbps links, so I downloaded all those images pretty quickly, then installed them. The slowest thing was probably going through and just setting up all the IP addresses because I run everything statically assigned. 

For a couple of hours, I was working with one of the guys from the city just going through some configs and getting some configs setup. I was pretty much a fairly green user of the product at that stage, though I've used a lot of tools like it. 

What was our ROI?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to solving network issues and problems quickly. So, it comes down to engineering time and return on the investment.

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

The pricing of Accedian Skylight is really good. The sensors are low cost. Their model to analytics for sensors is by license, endpoint, or session. With the probes for their analytics, if they get deployed virtually, they are free. The licensing is only based on flows. So, you can effectively deploy probes everywhere in your network. Then, if you want to look at a specific type of traffic, you can enter into it with a very low cost license. You can just use things like spam ports, mirrors, TAPs, and aggregators to optimize what sort of traffic you send to these analysis tools. Then, if you want to start looking at more, you can up your licensed as you go. You are not getting forced into expensive appliances or subscription models.

It is a really good pricing model. That is one of the things that we really like about offering it to out clients is that they can start small and grow as they need, but they're not left out getting the right sort of information straightaway.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We use a company called Colasoft, which is a bit more focused on network analytics, capturing all packets, and doing detailed packet analysis. 

We have a relationship with ExtraHop, but that's probably more from a site security standpoint than it is from raw analytics. ExtraHop does sort of compete a little bit with Accedian, across more from an analytics side of things. We have used it more from a security standpoint on getting some visibility with a lot of security things. However, there is not a lot of overlap with Accedian.

We regularly work with a company called Profitap, who does a lot of network tapping, packet brokers, etc. We use products like Profitap for front-end traffic collection to feed our analytics tools. They sort of compliment Accedian. They are a TAP aggregator, which feeds data where you can do filtering and data manipulation along with killer traffic brokering or packet brokering.

We constantly look at other vendors all the time. Other vendors come to us all the time wanting us to look at their toolsets for partnering and things like that. We've looked at a few, like Gigamon, but we are sort of happy with where we are at the moment.

We don't play with SolarWinds. I think SolarWinds answers SNMP type issues for people. Their approach is getting very cheap, e.g., it starts to escalate from a price perspective, then before you know it, you spent a lot of money on SolarWinds. Therefore, we don't get involved in SolarWinds. It is not the right fit for what we do.

What other advice do I have?

We are a relatively new partner. We certainly haven't explored the full gamut of the suite. There is a lot more work to do, especially with dashboard creation, dashboard optimization, and customization. In terms of the sensors, we're only using that in a very small manner. We are probably 25 to 30 percent along with our journey in that scenario.

We do use the solution for performance and traffic monitoring of cloud environment as part of our demo set. We are able to look at cloud apps and cloud environments, more from a monitoring solution. We don't actually have anything virtually in the cloud at the moment. We have been using response times out of things like Office 365 and some of our CRM tools, but we haven't deployed anything in AWS or Azure. We can look at the traffic, where the response times and those applications are being hosted, etc., so we can sort of break down what applications are performing well.

We provide tools to our clients based on answering issues that they need. We see a differentiator between this toolsets and others. It gives us some insight into helping clients size up network and analytics solutions.

To get value out of a tool set, you need to have an idea of what you are trying to achieve to start off with. We see so many people who just want to stop monitoring traffic because there's no objective to monitoring traffic, and there's no objective to what they're trying to do. They just go, "We just want to see what's going on." Half the challenge that we have with people is helping guide them along the way to work out what they want to see, how they want to see it, how they want to presented it, and what sort of information are they trying to looking for: 

  • Are they interested in application issues? 
  • Are they interested in network issues? 
  • Are they interested in trying to work out application versus network? 
  • Where do we start looking at things? 
  • Are they trying to look at it from a set of sites? 
  • Are they trying to look at it from the users' perspectives? 

We try to understand what they are trying to use it for. There are toolsets out there that will do a lot of things for you really well. Ultimately, you need to work out what you're trying to achieve. If you're just trying to look for up-down scenarios, then Accedian will not give you too much information. However, if you're trying to understand where the latency in your network is, where you're seeing packet loss, and when you're seeing bad response times, then that's where these sorts of tools help you. One of our things is we just try and help people understand what they are looking for and guide companies about what to do. At the end of the day, we're just trying to help people make the right decision so everyone's happy in the long run.

They are a solid eight out of 10. If you look at the way that they do link-to-link testing, Accedian does it better than anyone else. I also like their Skylight sensor, TWAMP testing, and analytics. They do need a little more work on their analytics and adding Layer 7.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
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. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
GS
CTO at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Enables us to find problems with services offered by large telcos and right down to every network component

Pros and Cons

  • "For us, the most valuable feature is something called TWAMP that allows for real-time traffic in a way that is 10 times lighter than things like SolarWinds. It's in the sub-milliseconds of accuracy, and you can divide tasks so that you can literally see things like the tagging for Quality of Service. That had been incorrect with the carrier, but there was no way on this planet you'd be able to tell a carrier that they're wrong. I have dozens of scenarios where we found "No, that's not right," and got it resolved instantly."
  • "Some of the Skylight applications are a little newer, and they're still moving through initial revs. There are certain bugs, but nothing is insurmountable... It will just take a little bit of time for their user interface to get a little bit better."

What is our primary use case?

We had issues for a number of years with our carrier. I had dropped our bonded T1, 3 Mbps, to go to 100 Mbps fibre, minimum, to every location. We have 26 branches. Because of the scale and the magnitude of the capacity, it's fraught with not noticing whether we're getting our subscribed bandwidth, and we're paying a lot of money annually for our MPLS network. When I figured out the players like AT&T, and others in the mix, can have NNI, even though you think you have a 10 Gb connection—my backbone and my data centers are now connected to 10 Gb lines, my backbone is pretty much limitless—I wasn't sure what we were getting.

The scale of improvement from going to fibre, with this institution so used to having 3 Mbps, made everything look better. Except, I knew that when I need to put hundreds of terabytes of data across data centers and other components, I would have very specific expectations, and my intuition was that it wasn't even close. I was pretty much correct. We had video that was having trouble, and that was the "tell." When we started to look deeper, we had massive amounts of packet loss at higher capacities and smaller packet sizes. I've got a year or two worth of research at the highest levels. We needed a product such as the Accedian, that could knock it out—exactly where the issue is—in a matter of moments, and they were right. It's an extraordinary endeavor. I had an intuition that things needed correcting, and I was spot-on.

Accedian is a combination of SaaS and hardware devices. I have eight in my data centers and I have 26 branches, so the total we have is close to 85.

How has it helped my organization?

It has application and Layer 7 support, so that's going to be the next evolution. I had built an institution that I wanted to be number-one in Southern California, and I got bored and wanted it to be number-one in all of the US. When I talk to folks that used to work for, or who work for, Citigroup, they want to come work with me because we're doing things like NVMe capabilities of my sub-infrastructure that operates with 100 Gbps port speeds across state-of-the-art Aristas in a way that people can only dream of. 

As we prepare for the next five to 10 years, everything is based on network performance, latency, and application support. We have it set up in a way where we test the capabilities of the telco, the main provider, the local ex, the firewalls, and the switches right into our virtualized infrastructure in every single one of our locations. We virtually eliminate any finger-pointing. We know that if anything goes into maintenance due to an outage, and the failover is supposed to occur, we can instantly test it.

We called out AT&T on a 1-Gbps NNI that was supposed to support 60 folks—which in and of itself was a problem, because we're supposed to have 700 Mbps, guaranteed. When they failed over to a 100 Mbps, they completely saturated it and ran out of bandwidth. We were able to call them on all of this in real time. When we thought there should be 10 Gbps per 60 clients, we identified that they had unnaturally put all 60 through a 1-Gbps line.

The value is for networks on which hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent, where we have this level of intel. And we don't actually have to move around the network at a point in time, the way the world operated for the first 20 or 30 years of networking. We literally send traffic during the day and off-hours. We schedule these tests for repetitive performance, and the results are delivered in a digestible PDF report so that a non-technical person can see what passes and what fails.

It has saved hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can pay that money, but there's no guarantee you're getting that capability. 

We also can tell instantaneously whether or not we need to consider justifying more throughput or if we don't need what we have. There are probably several ways to look at what that is worth to an organization. However, if you have a system that's out in the cloud world, whether it's budgeting or mortgages, try to put a dollar figure on the capability to ensure the systems are working beautifully at all times.

In addition, Skylight has improved the interaction between my network, data center, and application teams, 100 percent. The layer side of it will be the icing on the cake. I will tell you the user experience before the user can tell you the user experience. We're fixing things for the applications team, and they don't know how or why. We're taking things that, in the mortgage world, historically had epic low rates in production, and doubling them. Just this week, I did something which changed a process that used to take between 30 seconds and a minute and a half and made it real-time, instantaneous. It's extraordinary.

Skylight brings the firewall and security teams to be very in-tune with the network teams, the telco teams, and the carriers that do the local. Any one of those could be finger-pointing at the other. We pinpoint exactly what the issue is, we tell them where it is, and it's pretty irrefutable. There are a time savings and there is collaboration.

You start buzzing away with NetFlow out of SolarWinds, and they'll tell you 17 reasons why it's something else. It's like playing a good game of chess. You think about every move two years in advance and, when it comes down to it, you end up with $50,000 worth of free gear, including, but not limited to, removing traffic shaping and policies that you know are strangling the network. I liken it to having the very best medicine for bronchitis or asthma or any type of breathing condition. This would be the medicine you would want. It opens up the complete "breathing" of the network, right down to every component, whether you're streaming video or doing other things.

You can simulate VoIP issues. As we move the organization to enterprise SIP, my biggest concern in my data centers is that if we ever had one-direction audio, we would never be able to figure it out. It would just take an extraordinary amount of time. Now we can simulate it, understand it, and resolve it in really short order. In fact, I have an engineer who came from LA Fitness, with 720 locations, and he said he took over a year and a half to figure out a problem, and he could have done it in under a month with this software.

When we moved small packets over certain routers, they would absolutely fail, and the world would tell me, "Oh, well, that's the way it is," and I said, "That's not possible." I proved that with higher caliber gear. We were able to move packets flawlessly down to 0.1 and 0 percent packet loss, which is unheard of, and maintained it. I proved it and showed the result. And then I did that again to ensure that the memory and the processing capabilities of the next-gen firewalls that are in every single one of my locations, are capable. And that was right through my primary firewall, to make sure they're capable of sending and adhering to certain traffic loads.

When I joined the company four-and-a-half years ago, I changed everything on a massive scale, to the point where if a vendor calls up and says something may not be running as expected, I politely explain to them that it's not even possible and that they need to take a look at their coding. I took apart every single piece of the puzzle, including four brand-new core switches that run the entire institution, where before we had three that were 10 years out of date; 120 switches, all Cisco, all brand-new. There was no stone unturned. When we run Accedian, if something isn't right, I can tell you exactly what it is and why.

In terms of reducing mean time to respond, it's done so by years. I don't even know how to estimate it. There are things that could never have been solved. When they tell you that they have put Quality of Service on your network, it could take you a lifetime to figure out and identify that the packet traffic and the tagging is converted because you have poor policy that converts everything into a particular tag. No one will believe what I'm saying in terms of saving "years to a lifetime," but you just have to see what this stuff can do. When used properly, there's no telling what you can do. I can say "from a year-and-a-half down to a month" and that's a reasonable metric.

What is most valuable?

For us, the most valuable feature is something called TWAMP that allows for real-time traffic in a way that is 10 times lighter than things like SolarWinds. It's in the sub-milliseconds of accuracy, and you can divide tasks so that you can literally see things like the tagging for Quality of Service. That had been incorrect with the carrier, but there was no way on this planet you'd be able to tell a carrier that they're wrong. I have dozens of scenarios where we found "No, that's not right," and got it resolved instantly.

I like the reports that are very standardized and so repeatable, which is amazing. I've got CSOs who, in a prior life, would be doing application support for institutions that are 10 times larger than ours, and they were unaware of what is possible. It's one of those solutions which completely educates really smart technical people as to what is possible. It's extraordinary.

What needs improvement?

Some of the Skylight applications are a little newer, and they're still moving through initial revs. There are certain bugs, but nothing is insurmountable. If you want to schedule something and do multiple tasks and multiple reports at one time, and it's erroring, it's a release or two away. It will just take a little bit of time for their user interface to get a little bit better.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Accedian Skylight for approximately six months. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support is second to none. We use their Pro Services, which are incredible. I've had teams across the globe looking at ours, and I have tried to get support to tell them you don't have to show up every time we run a test. I've built some really large networks, the two largest for particular carriers in Southern California, but I don't get the feeling they're treating me any differently than they would any client. 

I have to be so specific about what I need. I'm going to be a dream client for them because I care about these things and I'm not just giving up because what's "good enough" isn't. It has to be perfect and this is the group you'd want to have for that.

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

We still have SolarWinds, but it just doesn't do what this does. It doesn't seem to be as forward-thinking. SolarWinds tends to buy third-party companies and bring them together. But Accedian has pretty much one purpose, and one purpose only: to monitor and improve the way packets flow across networks. Whether it's SD WAN, MPLS, you name it, they're trying to figure out the best possible way to monitor and maintain it in a relatively cost-effective manner.

What was our ROI?

It's priceless, because I had senior engineers at the telco crawl around for upwards of a year-and-a-half, at their expense. I can't even imagine the hundreds and hundreds of hours that they spent, whereas we put tools in place and it was instant.

The only thing I asked was that the telco get trained up simultaneously, because they didn't have this toolset in their purview. I said, "We'll get this thing done, but I need you with your multiple CCIE capabilities to pay attention, because this is really such a sophisticated tool that it's not for just a standard network admin." We have Pro Services to get us through any gaps that we may have, but I needed the telco to understand it so my CSO wouldn't come back and say, "Well, I understand SolarWinds, but I don't know if I believe this. Why do we have it?" I said, "You don't understand. Our telco just gifted us $50,000 worth of equipment, and it wasn't because they're into giving things for free. I pointed out, without a shadow of a doubt, that their equipment didn't have enough horsepower to run what we needed to run." It starts there and it continues.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We took a look at some of the products where the entry point was north of half-a-million dollars, if you were lucky. And, of course, we had been running SolarWinds for years. The trouble I have with most of the solutions out there is they're very geared towards the double CCIE who says, "Yep, you're fine." That could be a situation where I would say, "That's interesting because we ran a test that shows that there's a bottleneck between S-2 and the data center at 50 Mbps, and that's a 200 Mbps location. I hit one button and it's done.

What other advice do I have?

My team tells me that Skylight's UI and single pane of glass are adequate.

We're headed toward using Accedian for performance and traffic monitoring of cloud environments. That Layer 7 application will do the performance from quadrants and sections of our network to the outside world. They have capabilities in places like Azure and third-parties, kind of like Speedtest.net or Fast.com on steroids. We just haven't evolved to that yet. But that's what I expect. If I can get mortgage companies to install devices on their networks, it will be a homerun. They may choose not to do it. I'm able to reach out to the CIOs and CTOs at pretty large institutions and get them to contemplate the possibility of putting these in place. If I could put one of these in place and could hit a button in a second and get it sorted out, that would be the next evolution; to really press it in the cloud.

At this point, we just have to walk before we can run, but that is on the roadmap as we continue to evolve and utilize the services from Accedian. I completely understand why major, well-known companies, and 60 percent of the worldwide global telecommunications world, use this. You need to be someone like me who cares about 10-Gbps internet perfection to really bring it in-house and educate teams as to what it's capable of, but once you get there, it's pretty extraordinary.

In the old days, you'd run an EXFO test. They would show up at a branch in the middle of the night, hit a beam from their location to another one, tell you reasons why at 10 Gbps it can't test that high, or that their equipment wasn't right, or whatever. And they would say, "Yep, certified. Zero packet loss." But that's one moment, one time, yet technology and networks live and breathe, literally grow and compress, in real time, every single day of the year. That method was instant failure.

This system is the diametric opposite. We have things in-line and we have them on SAN ports, and the way we are able to monitor the traffic gives us a 100 percent understanding of whether the traffic is flowing as expected. If we want to do saturation tests, without moving one person or one body around the entire Southern California/Nevada/Central California area, on a whim, we can throw new data packets at will. That capability is extraordinary.

I would rate Skylight at 10 out of 10, and I usually never give better than a "B". But they do a really great job. They have killed themselves to get this thing right. Ten wouldn't be the norm for me. You've got to be extraordinary. Spend a second and a half with me and you'll understand why.

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.
Learn what your peers think about Accedian Skylight. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
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Min Wang
President at AIP US, LLC
Reseller
Top 5
Very powerful troubleshooting tool that can help me find the root cause of an issue

Pros and Cons

  • "This solution has helped to improve the interaction between our network, datacenter, and application teams. I have used other tools, but this tool can pinpoint the root cause of my application or network issue in the majority of the cases. So, it helps different divisions or groups in the IT department to troubleshoot together and get an issue resolved. This tool helps a lot in our day-to-day networking application and IT operations."
  • "For the PVX, they are in the process of getting the results to export to cloud and SaaS for analytics. They told me that this will happen later this year. Right now, for the most part, I create that data myself."

What is our primary use case?

We are an IT consulting system integration and managed service provider. We provide service to different companies and focus on IT infrastructure, licenses, and security network. We also provide IPs, data center, virtualization, cloud solutions, etc.

Our customer had a performance issue. So, I introduced them to enterprise side of the Accedian solution.

They have both on-premise and SaaS, but the primary component is deployed on-premise. We gave them two components to the solution: One is called active monitoring and another is called passive monitoring. 

The active monitoring is part of their box appliance into the circuits and used to collect real-time information. That information will be sent over to their SaaS platform for analytics. We collect the information locally, installing a sensor control unit, which is a virtual server. Then, information gets collected from all the locations via active monitoring. The information will then be sent over to a the SaaS platform, which Accedian has for analysis. 

  • The ant Module is an appliance monitor, like a black box appliance. That's controlled by VMware. It is active monitoring and appliance-based. It plugs in data to the local VMware virtual server for collection, which is sent over to the cloud staff for analytics. 
  • The latest version of PVX that we are using is 6.6. That's for the application performance monitoring, which is passive. I know they are also trying to get the PVX into the cloud for analytics as well. I think that will happen later this year, but right now, it's being analyzed locally on a separate VMware server. 

They have a bunch of VMware servers using the full control for orchestrator and to do analysis.

For this particular deployment, we monitor the Internet, but we don't have Amazon Web Services or cloud deployment. We don't use the cloud for our service application. We have a local hosted service data center and our own private cloud. We built our own hosted data center at a third-party. Therefore, we do monitor the data side of the performance, including the connection, network, and application, but it's not a public cloud. We deploy the same PVX and ant Modules in our private cloud environment. These collect the application data for me so we can see how the application performs. It has achieved what I wanted to do, so it works great.

How has it helped my organization?

One major piece of what we are doing is called active monitoring (ant Module). Active monitoring is to monitor all circuits we have. For example, from Miami to New Jersey, we have a circuit. We're going to measure the performance package: loss, delay, jitter, and slew codes. We measure those KPI metrics, then we know how our network is doing. That's one side of the monitoring.

Another component is called a passive monitoring. At every location and between locations, we have a lot of application data. So, we are collecting all that data to the Accedian on-premise enterprise appliance (PVX). The PVX will collect all the application data locally and analyze it based on the different network segmentation of the traffic and its different applications, such as the Internet abroad in traffic, email traffic, database traffic, web traffic, or other production application traffic. It will separate them and analyze that traffic for each flow. If there are some issue with some application, it will be able to detect them.

For example, if people say, "Oh, my email is very slow." It can tell me, "Because the DNS resolution took 10 seconds. It should it be maybe 0.5 seconds. That's why there is a problem." Then, we can look into why it's taking so long to resolve a DNS thing. So, that helps us troubleshoot. Otherwise, when people complain about the performance, we don't know where to look into that issue. Therefore, this is a very good tool. We can look at the real-time data. We can understand why maybe a server is overutilized, then we can troubleshoot it from there. So, it's very powerful. We like it.

We have had poor network performance, and when we complained to our service provider, whomever they were, we didn't have data to back up our claim. We needed to show them something, such as, "Over the last three minutes, we haven't been collecting data between the two endpoints of your circuit." That's not good, and we needed to show them something.

Accedian can help me find the root cause of this issue. In general, we need to measure the service provider's performance. The service provider, when they sell you your circuit, will give you an SLA. Therefore, we can use the information that we collected to compare it to their SLA, whether it's package loss or latency. It can help me pinpoint the root cause of the network problem quickly. That's definitely one good thing.

With the passive monitoring for the application, they can pinpoint an application issue quickly to avoid finger-pointing. Application people might say it's a network issue. Network people might say, "No, it's not my issue. It's an application issue." We can get into those ping pong games all day long. It will not get us anywhere. With this tool, it can help us intelligently troubleshoot the root cause of the issue, which is great.

What is most valuable?

The user interface is very good, because it's all GUI-based. It's not command line. I know a lot of people don't like to type commands, so it's all GUI-based. For the active monitoring, we can put up a very nice dashboard. For example, for circuit performance, if you have 10 locations, then you have a dashboard for those 10 locations connecting to the headquarters. The dashboard will tell you the latency, jitter, and throughput. You can log in and see those number very quickly. If there's a problem, you will see it on the dashboard. On the diagram, you will see where the peak is or where the burst is. It will also tell you at what time. You can set it up to see the last minute, five minutes, hour, day, week, or year. You can set the interval you want.

What needs improvement?

For the PVX, they are in the process of getting the results to export to cloud and SaaS for analytics. They told me that this will happen later this year. Right now, for the most part, I create that data myself. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Accedian for over 10 years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. I don't have issues.

After it's deployed, it does not require a lot of maintenance. This means it doesn't require frequent upgrades, etc. It's very low profile. It's not like other vendors, where some of their products require frequent upgrades.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is very good. You can always add more sites. They charge you by license and the sessions. For example, for the PVX, it's licensed based on data flow.

The solution is not for normal end users. It is more for the Tier 2 or 3 (upper level) support people. There are probably 10 people using it: five from the network side and five from application side.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very strong. They are very technical. They have developers who really know what they are doing and know what the industry needs. Every time I call them, I tell them the problem that I'm facing, and they can always make some suggestions or help me troubleshoot.

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

I started to know Accedian when I was their service provider. Back then, they had a niche as an Ethernet determination device for performance monitoring. Probably two to three years ago, Accedian created a new enterprise division. Now, they have products and solutions for enterprises, not just as service providers. I sort of know both of their product lines.

How was the initial setup?

It's straightforward. Because there's a lot of information that they're collecting, it will take a bit of time to set up, especially for each end-to-end connection that you want to monitor. With active monitoring, you have to set up a new system, which does take a little time to set up. 

We have about 15 locations. That takes probably two weeks to deploy.

What about the implementation team?

One full time resource helped us. You need local people to help you with the boxing.

We got it in a box and plugged it into the network. Then, we scheduled Accedian to help us configure a few locations. Afterwards, our local team, including myself, takes over. Because at the end of the day, we're going to be operating out of the boxes so we want to learn how to do it.

Accedian provided training to us, as far as how to monitor, look at the data, and make the data useful. They provided training as a part of the package. This was very efficient.

Accedian doesn't do a full scale deployment. They do a remote deployment with you. The customer will need to have local people, like myself, to do the physical work. At the end of the day, I will have them take a look and make sure what I did was correct. They will also tell me if I need to improve the configuration. It's a joint effort. It's not like they're going to send three people to travel to all of the sites to do storage themselves. It's not like that. They're going to help you remotely and that will save on costs as well.

What was our ROI?

This solution has helped to improve the interaction between our network, datacenter, and application teams. I have used other tools, but this tool can pinpoint the root cause of my application or network issue in the majority of the cases. So, it helps different divisions or groups in the IT department to troubleshoot together and get an issue resolved. This tool helps a lot in our day-to-day networking application and IT operations.

This solution has helped to optimize productivity or minimize downtime. It helps me do my job as a network engineer. I need it to troubleshoot. Every time people say, "Oh, my applications not working," usually people will start complaining about the network first. Now, I have a tool to show them whether it's a network issue or not. It is a very important tool to improve the efficiency of the entire IT team. 

In the past, when we didn't have this tool, people would start looking at all sort of things. After half day, they don't even know what's really causing the issue. They can be guessing all day long. Now, with this tool, the first thing that I do would be to go into it. I take a look whether my circuit had an issue within the last five minutes. Then, I look at the PVX, and whether it's the application that has any issues. It will tell me, because if there's an issue, e.g., you will see a spike on the latency or timeouts. Therefore, it will tell me which components or data flow is causing the issue, e.g., which data flow is showing abnormal activity. It's tremendous, because previously supporting an issue would take hours, where now it'll take minutes. That's the difference.

Mostly, the solution pays for itself. The active monitoring monitors service provide circuits. In many cases, a service provider has an SLA associated with each circuit they sell you. For example, if for my circuit is down for a day, I can be refunded for 50 percent of the cost of the month. Therefore, if you have a circuit that is frequently having an issue with this tool, you can show the service provider and they can refund you. Though, your goal is not to get a monthly refund. 

It's not that expensive of a solution and produces tremendous value. It has a great value proposition and will save you time. Same with the IT team's time, and time is money. It's a great investment.

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

It provides value and the cost is not huge. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Accedian is very granular, meaning they collect data unlike other vendors. Other vendors collect data as well, but maybe they collect at a one-minute interval. Accedian can collect the data at one-thousandth of a second interval, which is why it is very granular. You can really know at each fraction of a second what happened with the network, which is what we need.

We have used other vendors' products as well. Their products average out. For example, if we have a network peak for one or three seconds, Accedian can tell you about the information collected, "In those three seconds, you had a burst." Other vendors, they don't do that. If you average out those three seconds over a 60-second average, it may not tell you anything. It may be very smoothed out, whereas Accedian provides live data.

Other vendors, like SolarWinds, are not competing out of the same market. They do some things that overlap each other. With other vendors, their one-minute interval, narrow overview is for presentation to executives and managers, but it is not really good for network troubleshooting.

Accedian is really more science and engineering focused. We look at each individual package and each individual data flows. It is for the next level of troubleshooting and performance monitoring. They are really on the top of all the products that we looked at it. 

While there are other products, they are very expensive. You can bring other vendors in who produce hardware, which can plug into your network. This is not Accedian hardware, they are essentially very heavy duty hardware. Accedian combines being both cost-effective and also being very science and engineering focused. They do the day-to-day work very well.

What other advice do I have?

Accedian has a security product as well. The same information and data that we collect for the passive monitoring solution (PVX). They can analyze the same exact data to identify any security threats. We are doing proof of concept with them. There are a lot of security vendors in the market right now, so we have compared their solution with other vendors. We haven't purchased the security side of Accedian yet, but we are looking into it.

This tool is definitely worth looking into, no matter which industry you are in, because it generalizes all the problems an IT department has at each company in the circuit and in the application. 

I would give it a nine or nine point five out of 10. It is a good product to own. They are a stable company, which has the technical skills to produce a product like this.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner/reseller.
AB
Manager IT Production Service at a maritime company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Top 10
Reduced our migration time and downtime

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution’s UI and single pane of glass is good. The new dashboard is modern with its new design. The look of it is not pretty, but it is efficient, which is good. It is user-friendly; you can find what you need on the interface quickly."
  • "It needs the possibility to export data because it is not easy to see larger data sets, e.g., for one month. It would be interesting to export data into a PDF or dashboard to keep a history of the situation."

What is our primary use case?

We use Skylight to monitor the performance of our network on different sites. We also use it to troubleshoot if there is an issue on the network/standard and the end user experience is good.

Recently, we used Skylight to monitor the amount of external user VPNs. With COVID-19, we have many people who work at home. We used Skylight to count the number of users and monitor the Internet line to see if there was a point of saturation.

It is mostly deployed on-premise with some services in the cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

It has sort of improved capacity planning by helping to size the network bandwidth or performance for the infrastructure.

Skylight is on our data center. Only our network teams have access to it. However, the network team does speak about the diagram of the dashboard to the application team, who doesn't have access to Skylight. Thus, the solution has helped to improve the interaction between our network and application teams as we work together.

What is most valuable?

We use it for troubleshooting, e.g., when we are currently in an IT territory migration, we can check if there is a computer or server using the old domain controller to analyze the network traffic. We can find it faster than the computer using the old domain group. It's more efficient to change it for the network migration this way, and Skylight accelerates this.

The solution’s UI and single pane of glass is good. The new dashboard is modern with its new design. The look of it is not pretty, but it is efficient, which is good. It is user-friendly; you can find what you need on the interface quickly.

What needs improvement?

It needs the possibility to export data because it is not easy to see larger data sets, e.g., for one month. It would be interesting to export data into a PDF or dashboard to keep a history of the situation.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the solution since September last year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. We have had no issues when it comes to downtime. It has reduced downtime because we have no solution for migrating the DNS. With Skylight, we never forget anything. It has also reduced our migration time.

We have two people who do maintenance: a network manager and a network administrator.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is good. With this license, we can deploy 25 probes. Therefore, it is possible to add new probes for scalability.

We don't have a big team. Less than 10 people in the networking team use the solution. Many people can see the data, but less than 10 can use it.

We collect the data for only 10 sites. In the future (maybe next year), we can deploy Skylight onto other sites.

How are customer service and technical support?

I don't use the technical support.

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

We were not using anything before this solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was easy and simple. It took three hours to deploy with the network configuration because it is important to configure the network to collect data for the probe.

What about the implementation team?

One person did the setup.

What was our ROI?

The solution is for quality, not to reduce money.

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

The pricing is cheaper than other competing products, which is better for our budgets.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We tried out Dynatrace and Riverbed. It is simpler to deploy Skylight. There is no need for an agent on the server or network to collect data. Also, Skylight had the cheaper price.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution as an eight (out of 10). If they add exporting data to PDF, I could made the rating a 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
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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