The 451 Take: ThousandEyes a First Mover in Diagnosing Modern Network Performance Issues

Posted by on January 12, 2015

To most people in an organization, networks seem to have ‘disappeared’. They haven’t gone away, of course, they’re simply considered the utilitarian mechanism that allows almost everything else to happen — that is until something goes wrong. And when there’s a problem, the pressure’s on: the financial impact of outages, the reputational impact of security attacks, and the impact on customer experience of service degradation. At times like these, network teams can feel like they have the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

The rub is that managing performance and availability is more complex and time consuming than ever before. Ask anyone in the network team and they’ll tell you that diagnosing network performance issues requires a comprehensive view of … well … the network. But what happens when the network is no longer in your direct control or within view of your current tools? That’s exactly what’s been happening over the last decade — more complex network topologies driven by mobile devices, telecommuting and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

In analyst firm 451 Research’s recently published impact report, analyst Peter Christy states that, “with modern SaaS usage, it is essentially always the case that some of the network paths between the user and service are not operated by either the SaaS customer or SaaS provider, which precludes the use of legacy network-analysis products that require privileged access to network devices.”

ThousandEyes was built based on a different premise: what if we treat these different network segments as ONE network perimeter that you can troubleshoot across, whether an application consumer or provider? This led to the first ThousandEyes product, launched in mid-2013. Network teams from organizations large and small are now empowered with real-time visibility from their datacenters to the cloud.

Figure 1: ThousandEyes Path Visualization with hop-by-hop detail across networks.
Figure 1: ThousandEyes Path Visualization with hop-by-hop detail across networks.

The 451 Research report observes this, stating that “ThousandEyes addresses the new problems that use of SaaS applications brings with respect to diagnosing performance issues in others’ networks.” They call the product “a well-architected, easy-to-use and highly functional application delivered as a service, with an impressive list of reference customers.” They call ThousandEyes an “early mover” with no other vendors providing a “comparable offering today”. The report also highlights new features we’re introducing to enable the analysis of the network connections used to carry VoIP telephony.

We launched ThousandEyes Lite in December 2014 as an always free version of ThousandEyes for individuals and small teams. The 451 Research report says that the ‘Lite’ version of our product “is likely to have much greater uptake than most free product versions – first because Lite is a SaaS offering, so the time to value is short and the cost of trying is minimal; second, because Lite isn’t ‘crippleware’ and is more full- featured than might be expected.” We truly hoped this would be the case and it seems to be bearing out with the many new users that have signed up for Lite over the past month.

Back to the original point, enterprise networks are designed with resilience in mind and for the majority of the time most people take their availability and accessibility for granted (“they disappear”). However, networks do fail, performance does degrade and cybersecurity attacks do happen, all while networks continue to grow in complexity. It’s important for organizations to look for approaches that equip them for this reality and enable them to understand what’s wrong within the network, all the way from their data centers, across the Internet, to their SaaS applications.

You can continue reading the 451 Research report and see Peter Christy’s take on ThousandEyes and addressing the challenges of modern enterprise applications and networks.