Roles within IT teams like security, networking, and help desk are rapidly evolving. Reshaped by hybrid work models and third-party dependencies, these functions that once operated in distinct silos now increasingly need more integrated data, more context, and the ability to quickly understand interdependencies in order to consistently assure seamless digital experiences for the customers and employees they’re responsible for keeping online, all the time.
Today at Cisco Live Amsterdam, we’re pleased to announce several innovations designed to support these needs. Our solutions aim to assure digital experiences across any network, ensuring our customers are equipped to confidently manage any user using any application in any location. Read on to learn about them all, or click the links to jump directly to the section that is most relevant to you:
Deeper Visibility for Remote Workforce Management
Cisco Secure Access Experience Insights: ThousandEyes-powered insights embedded in Secure Access, so security teams understand network performance impacts
System Process Metrics for ThousandEyes Endpoint: Provides clear visibility into device-application interactions, simplifying remote troubleshooting
Streamlined Test Setup
Enhanced API Monitoring: Offers a user-friendly solution for API testing, providing comprehensive insights with minimal setup
Endpoint Test Templates: Simplifies the endpoint configuration process, enabling broad deployment of application-specific templates
Versatile Data Access
Dashboard Filters: Offers simple, configurable filters for streamlined monitoring, enhancing operational efficiency
Deeper Visibility for Remote Workforce Management
Experience Insights, a central feature of Cisco Secure Access, empowers ITOps teams to rapidly diagnose and resolve connectivity and performance issues. This key component, embedded within the Security Service Edge (SSE) solution and powered by ThousandEyes, serves as the Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) aspect, crucial for managing digital experiences both inside and outside the corporate network.
This feature focuses on delivering essential endpoint performance data, helping ITOps quickly determine the root cause of a user’s problems, whether it’s related to the device or the network. Experience Insights complements Cisco Secure Access by contextualizing the impact of user devices on application performance to troubleshoot situations, such as sub-optimal performance on local networks or resource-heavy application and system processes. It provides detailed insights into hardware utilization, local network statistics, and performance of major collaboration and SaaS applications.
Within the Secure Access portal, administrators get an overview of overall device health status and key network and device metrics. This dashboard makes it easy to quickly identify and troubleshoot any stressed or malfunctioning devices.
The Common SaaS Applications Performance view links device functionality with the status of essential applications. It compiles and presents test results from ThousandEyes’ global vantage points for popular SaaS applications. This allows IT teams to effectively identify and troubleshoot application-related performance issues. By including server/HTTP connectivity checks, this feature ensures a thorough diagnosis of performance problems, whether they are localized or part of a global outage. This data can also be viewed from different geographic regions in order to determine if only certain areas are experiencing issues.
For a more detailed analysis of a specific device, Experience Insights enables a deep dive into the performance of any system it monitors. The interface begins with user details and device information, followed by a comprehensive performance overview that includes CPU and memory utilization, local network link speed and path, and connection measurements from the client to the secure access gateway, and ultimately to the application. Administrators can view both current and historical
performance data for critical collaboration applications, such as Webex by Cisco, and cross-launch into the ThousandEyes platform for more granular network details. This in-depth analysis is particularly beneficial for ITOps teams, as it helps quickly pinpoint whether a user's problem is device-related or due to network issues.
By offering an integrated view of endpoint performance, Experience Insights streamlines IT operations and enhances the end-user experience. Aligning with the SSE framework, this solution simplifies the management of Cisco Secure Access and also ensures more reliable and efficient access for users to essential applications and services.
For more information about Cisco Secure Access Experience Insights, powered by ThousandEyes, please read the blog by ThousandEyes’ Head of Product Joe Vaccaro.
The ThousandEyes Endpoint Agent provides network and system performance data, crucial for understanding user experience and identifying device issues as it interacts with SaaS applications and external networks. The agent now includes additional metrics that illustrate how the device is using and allocating resources, offering detailed CPU and memory usage data for each application to help identify programs and processes that are straining the device.
As seen in Figure 4 below, this information can be viewed alongside the network metrics and path to the application. This context-rich presentation helps you quickly determine where a problem is occurring, whether in the network or within a local application.
Streamlined Test Setup
ThousandEyes is expanding its API monitoring capabilities with a new test type designed specifically to monitor API endpoints. This new capability is a direct response to customer feedback, focusing on the troubleshooting and operational needs of ITOps, SRE, and NOC teams. It facilitates better correlations between user experience and backend application issues, and it helps in identifying unmonitored, yet critical, API endpoints.
Our new API test is versatile enough to fit into the application deployment workflow of SRE teams, and it also suits NOC environments for dashboard monitoring. Administrators can assess performance health from any of our 200+ global agent vantage points, making it a valuable resource for network assurance.
The new API test type simplifies the process of identifying functional API performance issues. Set up is similar to other ThousandEyes tests: users navigate to Test Settings and select ‘API’ as the test type. With the API Step Builder and test templates, users can build tests that can include multiple steps for different request URLs and use values from prior API responses in subsequent API requests. Security is also a key focus in this new test type; with integration with our credentials repository and special handling of API secrets and authentication means, these API monitoring tests are secure and reliable.
API monitoring tests can range from as simple or as complex as needed. Multi-step tests offer ITOps teams the flexibility to create tests that ensure necessary visibility of the API and application ecosystem. As depicted in the example below, a basic two-step API test with two different URL requests demonstrates this capability. Users can quickly assess “Did the API behave as expected?” with
API completion rates and "Is my API slower than usual?" with API transaction times, alongside a granular breakdown into individual processes like DNS and SSL. Similar to other ThousandEyes tests, API monitoring test views can be saved as a shareable URL or sharelink, enhancing collaboration across teams or with vendors during troubleshooting.
Another new capability, AWS Test Recommendations - API Gateway, enables users to quickly discover, deploy tests for, and start monitoring critical cloud-hosted APIs. AWS Test Recommendations - API Gateway takes API monitoring to the next level by auto-discovering your AWS API Gateways directly from your AWS account and generating test recommendations based on your active API configuration.
AWS Test Recommendations - API Gateway automatically identifies critical API endpoints, including each API's supported method, required parameters, and headers, helping SRE and ITOps teams to automate comprehensive monitoring coverage and test deployment. Quickly discover, deploy tests, and start monitoring your critical cloud-hosted APIs.
To further streamline the process of setting up synthetic tests for ThousandEyes Endpoint Agents, a new wizard-driven experience is now available within the Test Settings configuration page. This makes it even easier to set up monitoring for common SaaS applications using pre-defined templates that contain all of the necessary domains and settings needed. Additionally, best practice guides are included with these certified templates that cover the test setup and monitoring strategy for each application. Custom templates can also be added so you can define your own applications and then re-use those configurations to quickly set up additional tests.
Versatile Data Monitoring
Dashboards are key to visualizing data from ThousandEyes tests and summarizing performance metrics across various locations, applications, or users. They help operations and service desk teams quickly pivot from a broad performance overview to detailed information about an individual user or device, making troubleshooting more efficient. Two new features within the ThousandEyes Dashboard were designed to improve this functionality, making it more user-friendly and scalable for larger teams.
Dashboard Drilldown simplifies the steps to access test data underlying any widget on the dashboard. For example, if a user identifies a performance metric indicating loss or latency, they can click on the metric for an expanded view, including historical data. Additionally, the new multi-service views feature allows combining results from multiple dashboard widgets onto a single page, which helps in making connections and presenting a unified view of overall performance.
The Dashboard Filters feature makes it easier to use the Dashboard for troubleshooting and investigating. It lets administrators configure a dashboard and then pivot all of the data and displays to target a specific dataset, such as location, user group, or service. These filters can be saved for future use, creating a library of saved services that allows for rapid pivoting in your investigative work.