If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering NETSCOUT nGeniusONE, what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
It is always important to understand the problems you are trying to solve, what insight you are trying to gain and that this is a solution for the business, not just a specific IT silo or team.
Do a proof of concept. Get to know your account manager.
NETSCOUT is a good product, but you need to spend the time training-wise to figure it out and make it useful.
The product is efficient, but the learning curve is very steep. Also, the technology feels a bit outdated.
I'm a big advocate of NETSCOUT. They're always thinking ahead, and that's what I like. I would recommend taking a look at NETSCOUT. Overall, when we get to the point that we need to, the dependency mapping will be excellent. We actually like the single pane of glass view. I don't know if we will ever be able to get to it, because of the organization that I work with. Once we get it implemented correctly, I think the solution will help to increase our application or network uptime. As of right now, that is why I'm pushing for product integration within my organization, which has been difficult.
Understanding what problem you are trying to solve. NETSCOUT nGeniusONE is not a true application performance management product. However, because of the wire data, packet data, its ASI capabilities, and the analytics on the roll up of that ASI data, there is benefit and value there. We use the solution for proactive monitoring of remote sites. To some extent, we also use the solution for SaaS applications that are external to the environment to do proactive monitoring.
I'm not a big fan of pushing a particular vendor, but it is a very good product: pretty stable, pretty scalable, with a very good and solid engineering team behind it. They are available and listen to customer needs and are always willing to do more to improve their products. But because I don't like to push a product too much, I prefer that people see and try it to see if they like it, to see if it fits their needs. The tool itself is just fantastic. We've been using it since 2001 or 2002. We are a big fan of the product. If we are satisfied with what we have, we don't ask for more. It's always about problem resolution or product improvement. We used to have regular, weekly calls with our NETSCOUT rep and, as soon they had a new product, a new version, new updates, they would share them with us, and we would know if we wanted to go in that direction or not. Today, we are quite happy and satisfied with what we have. We don't yet use the solution for proactive monitoring of SaaS applications or remote sites. We are working on the deployment of PULSE. I can easily imagine that with that new solution deployed in production, we will be able to do more and more proactively. It's not because it's not available with nGeniusONE, it's just that I have no one to check and be proactive. We will see a decrease in mean time to know and mean time to repair, more and more in the coming months, with PULSE. It's more about a business impact. With PULSE, we will have that "radar view", a view of the network, the server, and the application. So instead of needing 15 resources on a call at 2 AM, and losing 45 minutes just to get everyone there to find out what the is problem, with the PULSE solution, we are going to decrease that MTTR dramatically. Because nGeniusONE is pretty stable and scalable, I would say it's a good nine out of ten.
Consider what your applications are for this and purchase your features accordingly. Regarding the single pane of glass view, we don't think we've really fully deployed it from a cloud perspective, but from a VoLTE perspective, I know they're starting to get on top of it. From an SMS perspective, we found it very useful. I'll give it an eight out of ten as it stands today. It's very useful, but we do see some stability concerns. There is a lot of maintenance around the probes, and I think there needs to be more development done in the cloud sphere.
We can't ever walk into our builds or our support models blindly. This solution is one of many options, but it's obviously one of the better ones that we've worked with for years, and it's an integral portion of our architecture upfront. "Single pane of glass" is a very overused cliche in our business for the past couple of years, same with "Agile." I like the idea of being able to stitch it all together. Our operations team definitely insist on it. I would rate NETSCOUT a seven out of ten. Not to be a detractor, but I don't have the hands-on experience from an operations standpoint, so that's why I rate it a seven.
Get a demo. The guys at NETSCOUT have been super-helpful. Any time we ask for something they simply say, "Let's show it to you." They come onsite, give us a demo, show it to us, and if we like it we deploy it. We also have a sandbox, where we get our real traffic into the product in the early stages. We do all of our testing and all of our new builds in there before rolling to production, and that really helps. Regarding the single pane of glass view, we have different views because we use different tools for different use cases. We can't really say that we have it in our network yet, but if we can work toward that, it would be good. We have not used the Dependency Mapping the solution provides because our connections and relationship are way too complex. It's hard to see it on a visual screen. The solution helps us with network uptime. It helps with user experience to some degree. We still have some caveats that we're trying to work on with NETSCOUT. We're using nBA now for user experience and there's some cool stuff coming up. We're looking forward to it. I would rate nGenius at eight out of ten, because of the support and all the feedback we get. And at events, we get direct contact with their executive.
I would show someone who is looking into this type of product what I know about the product, how I use it, and help them make a decision on whether it's the right product for them. The product has a lot of capabilities and we're just using a small fraction of it. So, right now, I would call the solution a nine out of ten, because we only use a small portion of it. But for what we do, it helps us out tremendously.
I would recommend it. It's the best tool that I've used as far as troubleshooting quickly, at a glance, and for being able to drill down into any issues, any complaints we might have from customers. I do know that we would like to get TrueCall, but we don't have that yet. We're working on it. I would rate nGenius a nine out of ten because I don't rate anything a ten. There's always room for improvement.
I've been speaking to people who were having some technical issues with our NETSCOUT deployment, but when it works it absolutely helps us get to root cause more quickly. I would rate it pretty close to a ten out of ten. It's a very complex application and system, and the support from our NETSCOUT resources has been stellar.
We haven't used it as much for IT deployments, but we do use it occasionally after a deployment to troubleshoot when somebody is having problems with their deployment. I'm looking at their nGenious Visibility-as-a-service to try and leverage product. The struggle that most of people have with it: The product isn't all we do. We're not just looking at NETSCOUT all day. If you have somebody that you can dedicate to NETSCOUT, it would be an incredible investment. However, most companies don't, so I'm looking at their nGenious Visibility-as-a-service because I'm in the position where I know I can get more from the product. It is a great investment. The product is superior, but it's difficult to manage, keep current, be in front of, and be proactive with it.
Take a good look at this. It's been good for us. I've looked at some other solutions and everybody has the same problems to fix. The way that NETSCOUT, the company, is integrating so you get to reuse the data, is good. One of the problems we had originally was that everybody was doing something else. If you are going to capture all this network wire data, why not use it for security and everything. It's all in there. That's a big opportunity with these guys. If you go out and get something for voice from one company, and something to work on your network issues from another company, it's really hard to work them together. You never get to that single pane of glass. We use the solution for unified communication application performance but that's not really my area. People do use that constantly, and I don't think we'd be paying hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars, if it didn't help with uptime and end-user experience. I rate the product pretty highly, a nine out of ten. The biggest problem we have with this product is the expense. Also lately, the network traffic loads, getting up to 100 gigabytes, are taxing the hardware a little bit. That's a problem everywhere, so it's not really particular to NETSCOUT. They are responding to that. I rate them very highly.
If you want deep-dive, triage, packet-capture-type data, rather than just using Wireshark, it's very effective for that. It's definitely good for complex troubleshooting. There are other solutions, going into the cloud with the thin clients, and the vSTREAMs and vSCOUTs are definitely good, as is the nGeniusPULSE - I really like the PULSE product. We're not currently using that. I think nGenius is very useful. You have to know your own environment, and see if it's good for you or not. My recommendation is mixed, to be honest. Depending on what you're looking for would determine whether I'd recommend it or not, which I actually have, to a colleague. The solution can help us get to root cause more quickly, but not always. It is definitely a good stepping-stone, and when we have the visibility and the deployment properly implemented, it definitely can quickly get to a root cause. We use the solution for proactive monitoring of remote sites to an extent. We have all of our sniffers, and all the stuff that's TAP-ed is in our central areas that get reported back from remote sites. As long as it crosses over one of those TAPs, it works. We're currently in the process of actually redefining and restructuring our build so that it does give baselines and some proactive monitoring, but we're not there yet. For responding to issues, it can help the network uptime, especially when it comes to capacity, but as far as actually helping the stability of the network, I don't think it's really done that. nGeniusOne is a seven out of ten, but improving. Originally, about a year or two ago, it was like a four out of ten for us because we weren't using it properly. When it's implemented properly, and the training is there to use the interface and have it work in your company, and people understand it, it can be very effective. As we do more and get it properly implemented, I think that score can even go up.
Take a look at it. If not, you're losing the opportunity to improve your performance in terms of its customer aspects.
Be prepared to invest a lot of your own personal time to get the best use out of the system. Regarding the single pane of glass view, you've got to have a lot of time on the console. Even though it's single pane, you've got to be able to at least get all the phrasing and catch stuff located properly. I would give nGenius a seven out of ten. I think it could have an easier to understand interface. Other than that it would be a 10.
We probably won't use the single pane of glass view.
It's a very good, stable solution. The people behind this know LTE very well, they know how the data flows and what we're looking at. The product, as a whole, works very well for the wireless carrier. We don't have the single pane of glass view yet, but we are very excited about being where we can get that end-to-end. We're using RS and nGeniusOne right now, which are two different views, but we want to get to nSA and have the single pane. In terms of our application network uptime, at least in the way that we're using it, I wouldn't say that the solution has helped directly. When we have had problems, it's helped us get the vendors the information they need. But overall, I don't think the application itself has directly affected uptime, in our case. I would rate the solution a ten out of ten. It does what it needs to do, and it works really well at that functionality.
Get as much training as you can go to. Get your hands on the product as much as you can. There's a lot of information there and it's confusing at times if you're not familiar with the product. And rely on your NETSCOUT support. A lot of things that you might be looking for are already there, you just might not know how to get to them. In terms of the solution cutting our overall troubleshooting time, the answer is "yes and no." While it provides a lot of insight as far as the data goes, and the impact, our organization is still trying to learn how to troubleshoot effectively. In most of the cases it's a matter of either user experience or knowledge. I would rate nGenius as an eight out of ten. There's a lot of data. After hearing where NETSCOUT is going with the ability to actually isolate a problem quickly, it is good to see them working on that. It's really been the struggle: To show the user where the problem lies. There's a little too much investigation that the user has to do at this point.
Ensure that you get all your DAPS in at the right spots for your data. Learn how to build your cards to have a quick view and quick selection of where you want to troubleshoot. I believe other departments within our organization use this solution for proactive monitoring of SaaS applications or remote sites.
Reach out, contact NETSCOUT. It's an amazing tool, it has a lot of integrations, and it's definitely worth looking at. We still haven't gotten that deep into the dependency mapping, but we intend to start getting to it. Similarly, we're planning to start looking into unified communication application performance. We just got our license for it and we're going to try to implement it. I've only been using the solution for six months. My impression so far is that it's been pretty amazing. As things stand right now, I would give the solution an eight out of ten. I still have quite a few things to learn. Once I get to know its full capabilities, I will probably give it a ten.
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.
If you're looking to implement it or to purchase, once you actually see the usability of it I think the decision will already be made. If you're looking at other similar options, I would definitely advise looking into NETSCOUT and the nGeniusONE, along with all the other NETSCOUT products; at least the ones we've used, the OptiView and the nGeniusPULSE. I really feel that anybody who has contacted NETSCOUT to look into purchasing it, and has seen demos and proofs of concept on their own networks, for the most part, will end up purchasing it, regardless of what anyone says. They'll be able to see exactly what it's doing for them and what they didn't have visibility into before. The product pretty much speaks for itself. In terms of increasing usage, that's why we ended up getting OptiViews and the nGeniusPULSE devices and server, to take care of some of that load in a less expensive way. It's cheaper for us to be able to use nGeniusPULSE devices out on remote sites than to use a virtual NG1 out there, or to have multiple OptiViews. But if we need to dig down into stuff, we have the options there through NETSCOUT products. That's one thing that they've done well. If you don't have the money to put nGeniusONE devices out everywhere, you can get some of that functionality through different products at a cost that's more reasonable. We have five people using it on a daily basis. Their role is pretty much monitoring, for the most part. We have it set up to get all of the traffic that we want for application services, etc. But for the most part, it's just a monitoring role, and when there is an issue we just dig down into it from there. They are the same people who are dealing with the maintenance. I would rate it a nine out of ten and the reason is the integration issue with OptiView and the nGeniusPULSE. If they made it so that the nGeniusONE product would be able to do traffic testing with the OptiView, at that point it would be perfect, for what I use it for.
We have a pre-sales engineer whom we engage with on a regular basis. That has been extremely helpful, having somebody who is not just tech support but who is very familiar with the product and can provide some training. The product requires some knowledge on how to use it. You really need to be a more frequent user. That's probably part of our downfall as an organization: We don't have people using it enough to help build dashboards and application monitors. We use it in a reactive manner and I think there's more opportunity to be proactive in how you build application monitors within nGenius. There isn't so much of a heavy learning curve for the user interface, it's how you build the dashboards. The user interface seems to be pretty good. It's gotten better over time. But it's understanding how you get into how the mechanics of how the product works, where you pull your dataflows from, and how you stitch them together to get an application dashboard. I've been with the company about four years, and we've been using it as long as I've been here. There was a bunch of infrastructure that was put in prior to my getting here, all the TAPs and things to expand the footprint, but the footprint for nGenius is just in the PBM (pharmacy benefit manager) part of our business. We don't have it on our retail side. We're continuing to roll it out. As we can get funding, we increase the footprint of the product. Today we're only tapping a portion of our environment. Our plan is to continue to expand it and, eventually, put it into retail. It's used by our entire Operations staff. Some people are better than others, so it's probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 people who have access to it. It's not used on a regular basis by anyone. It's used if we have a request or a problem, as needed. The users are all network engineers. Some people are on the Operations side, and some folks are on the Engineering side, and some people are on the Architecture side. It goes across the whole swath of network engineers. There is just one guy who maintains it, and it's only a part-time job for him. As we scale it across the operation I expect we will only have to marginally increase the number of people who work on it. The biggest effort will be, as we roll it out, in bringing in additional TAPs, tapping the switches and the routers that we want to. But once that's done, we just direct the data feeds into the backend and, at that point, it's just a matter of how much storage we have. It doesn't require a whole lot of care and feeding. In the time I've been here, we've done one or two upgrades. But they've all gone well with no issues.
You need to spend some time to make the system to fit into your environment. Once you get it there, it works pretty well. I give it a nine out of ten. It's only to the point that we still need to do some feature requests for things we want to do. The toolset was there but, initially, it wasn't GUI-based, so it took some time for them to implement that.