Answering Common Questions About Endpoint Agent

To enable enterprises to manage their remote workforce in the backdrop of COVID-19, we initiated free access to ThousandEyes End-user Monitoring until July 31, 2020. If this is of interest to you, reach out soon — enrollment for this offer ends on June 30, 2020. Over the last six weeks since the offer, we have seen an overwhelming response from the market wherein large Fortune 500 companies are deploying the ThousandEyes Endpoint Agents in the thousands to monitor their remote employees. As we work with our customers to help them transition into managing a large remote workforce, we often encounter some common questions. In this blog post, we will dig into a few of the frequently asked questions around ThousandEyes End-user Monitoring, focusing on three categories: use cases, deployment and data privacy.

ThousandEyes delivers visibility into remote users through vantage points deployed on the end-user laptop or desktop called Endpoint Agents. Browser-based real user monitoring in conjunction with network synthetics provides both real-time and proactive visibility into the user’s experience of business-critical SaaS and internal applications, including the health and performance of the underlying local, ISP and application provider networks. These agents allow you to delve into every layer of what affects user experience and give you the ability to correlate application metrics alongside end-to-end network connectivity metrics—no matter where the user is located.

One of the most frequent questions we hear about the Endpoint Agent is in relation to the different types of problems it can help detect when it comes to a remote workforce environment. So let’s dive into a couple of examples.

Putting Endpoint Agents to Work

Remote User Monitoring Endpoint Agent
Figure 1: Remote User Monitoring with Endpoint Agent.

Monitor Your Critical SaaS Services

Monitoring business-critical SaaS and internal web applications can be accomplished in real time using a browser plugin, or you can take a more proactive approach using the scheduled network synthetic test capabilities of the Endpoint Agent.

Browser-based Real User Monitoring

With this method, you can either automatically capture user interactions for a set of IT-defined applications, such as Salesforce or Office 365, or record sessions on-demand for ad hoc troubleshooting.

Page Load Waterfall Chart
Figure 2: Browser session data captures how a page loads through waterfall charts obtained from HAR files.

Detailed waterfall and page load metrics (such as page load time, response time, browser errors and experience score) are captured for every session and correlated with the underlying end-to-end network behavior to quickly identify the root cause of slow page loads or poor user experience. Experience score can be conditionally aggregated, by user location or accessed application, or viewed individually, per remote user/ This lets you view overall trends across locations/users/apps, and hone in on issues impacting your remote employees. he timeline view lets you navigate back and forth in time to quickly identify root cause performance degradation.

User Experience Score
Figure 3: The experience score is a rating of a user’s experience when accessing a particular page.
Scheduled Synthetics For Proactive Monitoring

In order to stay on top of issues, ThousandEyes offers customers the ability to create synthetic ICMP and HTTP tests. They allow you to proactively run tests to the services you care about, such as your UCaaS endpoints, VPN gateways or VDI environments (like AWS Workspaces) from all or some of your existing Endpoint devices. Scheduled tests periodically gather service availability metrics, end-to-end network metrics along with hop-by-hop network path details so you can quickly identify and resolve issues before they impact user experience.

High Latency Upstream ISP
Figure 4: High latency in upstream ISP impacting Morgan’s connectivity to Webex.

Troubleshoot Wireless Issues

Wi-Fi issues are challenging to detect and isolate as users move around the office/event venue or work remotely from a coffee shop or from their homes. With the influx of remote workforce at this time, wireless connectivity becomes an even bigger challenge. Consumer-grade wireless is inconsistent and dependent on multiple factors, including the wireless data plan, Wi-Fi access point, gateway, ISP carriers and at times even the layout of the residence!

The Endpoint Agent gathers a variety of wireless metrics from the machine’s OS every 5 seconds: BSSID and SSID, location, wireless signal quality, throughput, RSSI, noise, roaming events, channel swap events, retransmission packets, channel of operation, PHY mode, etc.

Wireless Metrics Signal Quality Throughput
Figure 5: A wireless client showing low signal quality and throughput.

Ensure VPN Gateways Are Working as Expected

Endpoint Agents allow you to monitor the use, connectivity and performance of VPN gateways and end-to-end network connections so that your remote employees can consume business-critical internal and SaaS apps with no impact on user experience. VPN gateways can often become chokepoints and network synthetic tests allow proactive monitoring of these gateways from global vantage points that closely resemble user locations.

Monitoring VPN Gateways
Figure 6: A poorly configured VPN is resulting in suboptimal routing and contributing to high network latency, loss, and ultimately poor SaaS digital experience.

As we’ve discussed above, Endpoint Agents gather some really useful data. Monitored data is fed back to the ThousandEyes SaaS platform. A snapshot of data can be saved permanently using our unique ShareLink feature. With the interactive view, you can go back up to 30 days using the historical timeline but up to 90 days worth of data is stored and can be retrieved via reports and dashboards and exported ITSM or other analytics tools through our comprehensive API.

In order to make more informed decisions with this data, we offer customizable dashboards. Building these on your own assists with real-time monitoring and management of various metrics for your remote workforce. Check out this blog on “Best practices in creating a remote workforce dashboard.”

Deploying Endpoint Agents

The Endpoint Agent consists of a browser plugin (compatible with Chrome, Microsoft Edge and IE11) and a system service that deploys on Windows and macOS laptops and desktops. These lightweight agents require only 20MB of memory and have very negligible (~0.5%) impact on CPU utilization.

These agents can be deployed at scale using Managed IT software tools like Microsoft Configuration Manager (SCCM), Windows Group Policy, VMWare Workspace One / Airwatch, Munki, etc. More detailed guides on Endpoint Agent setup, Windows manual installation, and macOS manual installation can be found in the ThousandEyes Knowledge Base. Following our remote employee offer, we have seen administrators deploy thousands of Endpoint Agents in just a couple of days. This requires a one-time configuration that can then be automatically pushed to all devices.

Keeping Your Data Private

Endpoint Agents can collect data in three ways: pre-configured monitored domains defined by IT, manual recording for ad hoc troubleshooting and via scheduled synthetic tests. Data collected that constitutes PII (Personal Identifiable Information) includes names of Endpoint Agent machines, users and identified networks, visited web pages and object names seen in waterfall data. ThousandEyes provides full Role-Based Access control and the ability to limit users’ ability to view PII. The agent does not collect information about page contents. You can also limit the exposure of personal information when you create and share snapshots by selecting the option to anonymize users and their visited pages.

If you’d like to learn more about how Endpoint Agent helps to ensure employee productivity with real-time visibility into every employee’s digital experience, watch this video.

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