Two types of network visibility MSPs must have - most have one, so what are they missing?
Sinefa has many MSP partners across the world, and we often hear “we have tools that provide us network visibility”. In many instances that is true, yet the same MSPs can have a glaring visibility gap. Confused? Read on!
Generally speaking, there are two common ways to talk about “network visibility” as set out below;
Network visibility - endpoints and network infrastructure
The task of managing and monitoring IT assets such as servers, workstations, network devices, network subnets, installed apps etc. is essential. Common tools MSPs use include Labtech, Kaseya, PRTG, Solarwinds, Auvik and many others. These tools map the network, provide configuration management, monitor utilisation and uptime, provide alerts and more to help keep the infrastructure layer functioning. They’re also often referred to as Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools. The missing piece of the puzzle though is that many of these tools do not actually monitor visibility of “network traffic”, and those that do rely solely on netflow which has other limitations to be aware of (see link).
Network visibility - applications and traffic
As more network activity moves to the WAN and Internet, visibility and control of network traffic is becoming more critical. You’ve no doubt had the call from your client saying the network is slow, or their desktop is taking ages to load etc. This is where network traffic visibility comes in. The only way you’ll be able to identify the cause of this slowness is by having visibility of how bandwidth is being used, by app, by user, operating system, host and more. You’ll also need to be able to shape bandwidth to ensure that critical apps perform because when they don’t, this impacts your clients' business productivity, and means more service tickets for you.
So what’s causing your clients' networks to “feel slow”? In short, the explosion of cloud-based applications is adding more and more utilisation to data links. The world's businesses are taking up Microsoft apps such as O365 at a rapid rate, and there are also many more recreational apps being used on business networks than there were in the past. Apparently millennials don’t work for companies that don’t allow recreational app use! So, more data is causing congestion, and this congestion is causing performance issues which causes apps, and the network, feel slow.
Ironically your clients' own behaviour on the network is having an impact on network performance, yet when network performance is poor they call your help desk which costs you money. Most endpoint tools will not solve this issue or be able to easily identify to your client that a Torrent session or windows update is killing their key business apps.
So the reality is that MSPs need both types of network visibility. Sinefa perfectly compliments all of the RMM tools on the market and is the simplest way to get network traffic visibility and control.