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Identifying Source of Intermittent WAN Link Slowdowns With NETSCOUT Smart Edge Monitoring

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l USE CASE l E N T E R P R I S E Intermittent performance problems on third-party wide area network (WAN) links (e.g., MPLS sites, Internet access, and/or SD-WAN circuits) are among the more- challenging network and application management issues to troubleshoot and resolve, especially because the network segment is not actually "down." This issue is often characterized by sporadic slowdowns, experienced by a variety of users, and can plague an organization or particular office location for a few hours, days, or even weeks. Uncovering the root cause of the problem is difficult for several reasons, including unpredictability in the timing of the degradation, who it might impact, and whether the problem lies in the remote site, the third-party WAN provider's domain, or where the application in use is hosted. A frequently heard comment by network operations (NetOps) personnel in trying to identify and resolve intermittent WAN link degradations is, "We have to wait 'til it happens again and hope we see it." Readily available, ongoing monitoring visibility at this WAN network edge is the answer to avoiding this particular delay and obtaining the analysis necessary to more quickly pinpoint the source and resolve the disruption. Performance Issue The IT team in one government agency recently began receiving reports of slowdowns, or degradations, on the WAN circuit connected to some of their regional office locations. The network operations team would need to determine whether the slowdowns were related to a problem with sites, the WAN circuits, or the application servers in the data center to know where to advance the trouble ticket next. Complicating the issue was the fact that while many of the reported issues seemed to be coming from one location, there were other reports from users in other remote offices. If the problem was found to be the sites or data center, network operations would work with internal IT staff to further investigate and correct. However, if it was found to be the third-party WAN provider, they would need monitoring evidence to help the provider take ownership of researching and resolving the slowdowns. Impact The intermittent WAN slowdowns were affecting both employee and constituent productivity for this government agency. While both frustrating and annoying, other issues were also concerning. In this case, there were documents that needed to be accessed for use and review over the network from these sites and others that needed to be uploaded, sometimes under strict time constraints. Efficient execution of these tasks by the employees and constituents was at risk due to the intermittent WAN delays. Since resolution could be further protracted without proper visibility, the impact of these problems became that much more significant to the government agency's operations. Troubleshooting The IT team of this government agency was a long-time NETSCOUT ® user. They had implemented Smart Edge Monitoring using nGeniusONE ® Service Assurance software with InfiniStreamNG ® (ISNG) appliances for packet monitoring, as well as nGenius ® PULSE software with nPoint devices for synthetic test monitoring. Strategically deployed at the agencies' branch offices, the team had installed a combination of 1900 and 2900 series ISNG appliances on their WAN edges to monitor all the packet traffic coming into and out of the remote offices. As a result of split tunneling, Internet traffic (to any URL) from the remote offices never went through the agency data center, rather directly to the destination website. This included the agency's own website and portal for day-to-day operations with employees and constituents. As several of the reported slowdowns related to use of this website, the tests were written to test search terms for specific areas of their website – Navigation, Systems, and Careers. Identifying Source of Intermittent WAN Link Slowdowns With NETSCOUT Smart Edge Monitoring

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