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Internet Visibility for the New Enterprise Reality

By Tris Clark
| | 16 min read

Summary

I&O leaders can compete in today's digital economy by adopting cloud and Internet technologies that allow for greater flexibility, ease of use, and scale.


It is a new era for the enterprise, complete with a new reality for those in charge of digital end-user experiences. In the not-too-distant past, organizations navigated largely static, controllable environments where users and apps were located at pre-determined physical locations. Today, we have transitioned into an ever more digital, dynamic and distributed office ecosystem that requires you to constantly evolve your organization’s infrastructure without compromising visibility, control or performance.

The Age of Flexibility Also Brings Complexity

By and large, remote work is no longer an edge case for most enterprises. In this new reality, your company needs to adapt to new ways of working to stay competitive, especially given the tight labor market. This shift in how and where employees work requires infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders to re-think their workplace to combine the best elements of remote work with what's possible on-site. And why not when you consider the numerous flexibility benefits a hybrid work approach can offer to keep recruitment competitive, boost morale, drive productivity, and reduce overhead costs, such as real estate.

In this new reality, cloud and Internet infrastructure plays a crucial role in enabling your IT teams, and thus your broader organization, to compete in the digital economy. The cloud offers flexibility and scale that is central to your company’s success. Businesses are migrating existing applications or building new ones on public cloud infrastructure. And we have witnessed the widespread adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS), particularly collaboration apps like Webex® by Cisco and Microsoft Teams. And the reasons are clear: customers and employees expect digital experiences that are always available and easy to use.

SaaS is your new application stack. Today’s applications are also no longer monolithic, as modern applications incorporate third-party functionality from multiple sources through APIs and microservices. And with the Internet of Things (IoT) having a growing impact on our lives and industries, machines—not people—will connect to enterprise networks more frequently. The definition of a “user” is now expanding to encompass increasingly clever machines capable of acting autonomously and making decisions at scale and speeds that humans can’t hope to keep up with. Greater usage of machines, automation, and microservices require that organizations re-architect their network to accommodate the next era of human and computer interaction. This also has a long-term impact on how we staff IT for success, strategically manage our operations, as well as monitor and troubleshoot the digital ecosystems that support them. 


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Know the Internet—Defeat SaaS Opacity With Data and Context 

As enterprises face this new reality, they must evolve their infrastructure and app stacks, both on-premises and in the public cloud. To remain competitive, they need to change how they deliver digital services by adopting new technology like SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network). SD-WAN changes network delivery by relying more on direct Internet access (DIA), which can add complexity to your environment.

But understanding how SD-WAN works is one thing; implementing it is another. Moreover, security approaches like SASE (secure access service edge) and SSE (secure service edge) can often dictate IT's long-term thinking on IT architecture. Both SASE and SSE link Internet, cloud, and network environments together to varying degrees, depending on the security vendor’s approach. Some customers are building their SD-WAN deployments with a wider SASE architecture as their end goal. SSE places more emphasis on cloud and Internet by default, given its disaggregation from the network. And while SASE is more network-centric in its approach, it also is heavily influenced by online connectivity. Both SASE and SSE deployments will be complex, shifting environments that operate at scale, so whichever option a customer ultimately chooses, systematic digital experience monitoring will be key to ensure all online components involved are resilient and consistent. 

With the Internet having become your network, IT needs a different approach: an ecosystem management approach. Though the urgency of this digital transformation is well accepted, I&O leaders should be aware that Internet-based services do not come with the same guarantees and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) offered by managed service providers. Hence, if your company is planning such a project, it is preferable to benchmark performance before, during, and after implementation to ensure that changes positively impact user experience. Digital visibility is essential here. Otherwise, you lack the domain-level insight into the third-party platforms on which your digital services depend to operate. This opacity not only gives third-party providers plausible deniability if an issue on their end occurs—but worse, it denies you the opportunity to flag the issue and share real-time context on what you’re experiencing. Not being able to share this type of insight with your provider thwarts practical discussions that drive the resolution of performance issues. 

With the increased importance of hybrid work and serving distributed users, you’ll need an entirely new approach that considers the differing environments now at play—namely, residential broadband connectivity and Wi-Fi performance. For many, the home is the new office. Understanding these conditions and building as much resilience as possible into the architecture and management of these extended networks will ensure that business-critical collaboration and productivity apps can connect and run smoothly for everyone.

In essence, this "last mile" of digital experience can be particularly tricky when it comes to guaranteeing quality end-user experience. Your ISP, your CDN, your CASB, your cloud platform, your SaaS provider, your Wi-Fi, your VPN—any of these complex, moving pieces could be the weak link in your digital chain and stop your user (or customer) experience dead in their tracks. As previously noted, providers control many of the infrastructure and service components that sit outside the four walls of your business. That means that you need to benchmark performance, fine-tune your architecture, and hold your third-party providers accountable for the performance of their infrastructure and services. 

Old Techniques and Tools Won’t Help You Now 

The brutal truth is that many organizations are struggling to keep up with this pace of change. They are sacrificing visibility and direct control while trying to meet the demands of the new Internet-dependent era, but with tools that do not support this new cloud-first paradigm. It's impossible to apply traditional monitoring and troubleshooting tools across the hybrid, multi-cloud landscape—something that obstructs everyone involved, from service delivery and site reliability teams to end users. With traditional monitoring approaches, IT teams cannot troubleshoot issues with certainty or specificity. That is because traditional application and network monitoring tools use code injection or packet capture-based monitoring techniques (i.e., PCAP/Flow), which require ownership or control to be able to facilitate instrumentation of the application or underlying infrastructure, something that is not possible in SaaS environments. Monitoring solutions need to be able to identify dependencies across their entire digital supply chain. To do this, you need an active monitoring approach.

The cloud is your data center now. When something goes wrong, you need immediate visibility into the infrastructure. Having that complete view of the end-to-end environment allows IT to quickly identify the root cause of a problem and restore service.


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Internet and Cloud Visibility Safeguards Productivity and Revenue, and Helps to Ensure Great Experiences

Organizations must update their infrastructure without compromising visibility, control, or performance to address these challenges. And the key is end-to-end digital experience visibility—constant monitoring of key transactions, users, and business-critical applications in your network to ensure that every click and download provides a positive digital experience for your customers and employees. With complete visibility into everything happening in your digital ecosystem, you can make sure that each interaction is reliable and fast, resulting in more satisfied users and better outcomes for your business.

As a leading Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) platform, ThousandEyes offers this complete end-to-end visibility from your WAN to the Internet to the cloud. We do this by using a combination of measurements from pre-deployed Cloud Agents throughout ISPs and major public cloud providers, Enterprise Agents deployed within enterprise networks, and Endpoint Agents installed on user desktops and laptops. By correlating data from these vantage points, we provide an integrated and seamless view of Internet, network, and application layers in one easy-to-consume snapshot that tells a clear story of the root cause of an issue. This ThousandEyes insight helps bulletproof and accelerate performance, which in turn helps ensure productivity and company revenues.

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Figure 1. This Fastly outage impacted 85% of its service globally in June 2021

Organizations must also be able to build modern apps with confidence by assuring the modern application experience is optimized, and microservices communicate effectively. With our comprehensive Internet monitoring data set, ThousandEyes has industry-leading insights into the digital dependencies that impact application performance in cloud and Internet-driven environments.

Uncertainty–An Issue No More

Customers like Tom Case, Senior Vice President of Information Technology, of the YMCA of the North (previously YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities) has seen the difference ThousandEyes makes in improving cloud visibility and SaaS reliability at his organization. "ThousandEyes has given us visibility into Microsoft’s cloud, so now if we have an issue with a SharePoint instance, we can see if the issue sits on the Microsoft side,” said Case.

He continued, “On the employee side, we had quite a bit of failure with voice communication networks as well as CRM and HR tools—they were just tipping over daily, which of course hampered our employees’ abilities to do their jobs.” Not anymore with ThousandEyes, resulting in higher worker satisfaction and increased productivity for the wellness and youth development organization.

Understanding the complexities of the Internet has also been key to ThousandEyes customer McGraw-Hill’s success in getting its digital experience right. The publishing and software company counts on the visibility it gets from ThousandEyes to build trust for its digital transformation initiatives across the organization.

“There’s been an ecosystem developing within McGraw-Hill where all these various departments now want to look at the network,” explained David Mann, then Senior Director of Global Network Services for McGraw-Hill. “We’ve opened up the ThousandEyes dashboard and our tools to the rest of our internal organization—we have nothing to hide.”

With ThousandEyes dashboards, non-network McGraw-Hill teams can monitor the performance of their applications and diagnose problems without involving network operators.

“It’s like crowdsourcing your NOC [Network Operations Center],” Mann continued. “We gave them some training, but they’re able to do it themselves and look at the results.”

I&O Must Cross the Chasm: Say Goodbye to Expensive Virtual NOC Scenarios

The growing complexity, pace, and scope of this change present a new reality for enterprises. Strategically, the speed and scale of how Internet and cloud environments shift—a relentlessly evolving, machine-driven environment—means that you must play offense, not defense. Therefore, it’s vital to not just react to what’s happening but to get in front of any potential weakness within your digital ecosystem. By doing this, you drive accountability and performance in lockstep, taking your digital destiny into your own hands, and enhance and accelerate the performance of applications and services proactively and deliberately, not reactively and incrementally.

ThousandEyes helps enterprises assure performance by providing context on the domain causing an issue. Our customers frequently tell us that through ThousandEyes and our path visualization capability, they know more about their SaaS providers' performance than the SaaS vendor’s own in-house IT team does. 

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Figure 2. Path visualization shows network issues within a domain

Having this kind of common operational language visualizes domain issues, drives accountability, and makes online ecosystems understandable. Even better, this empowers the provider to solve issues within their infrastructure—ensuring consistent experiences and performance for your organization. These insights accelerate collaboration across teams (internal and external) to solve the problem, drastically reducing the mean time to identify (MTTI) from hours to minutes. With ThousandEyes, you can make expensive prolonged war rooms a thing of the past, protect the time of your frontline workers, and deliver the quality digital experiences that your customers and employees expect.

Want to get on the front foot with your digital performance? Evolve your network, applications, and services for the New Enterprise Reality with actionable insights from ThousandEyes. Start by requesting a demo or signing up for a free trial today! 

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