Host Enterprise Agents on Cisco Routers for Network Visibility

Posted by on July 6, 2016

Over the last few months we have been making it easier for our users to deploy Enterprise Agents in their own networks. Enterprise Agents query the network to determine the health of your infrastructure and provide visibility into both external and internal networks. They’re currently deployable as virtual machines for ESXi, VirtualBox, Hyper-V; as Linux packages for RHEL, CentOS and Ubuntu; and as Docker containers.

Today, we announced yet another deployment model by integrating our Enterprise Agents with Cisco 4000 Series ISR and ASR 1000 Series routers, common in most enterprise WANs. In today’s post we’ll take a deeper look at what this integration means and why it might possibly be our most exciting deployment model yet.

ThousandEyes Embraces KVM-based Containers on Cisco IOS XE

Late last year, Cisco released IOS XE 3.17 that supports hosting custom applications, built by you or a third party, directly on Cisco routers. The goal is to create an open environment that allows customers to collocate Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs) like DNS or DHCP services or lightweight monitoring and troubleshooting tools like Wireshark and iPerf within the router.

The Cisco ISR 4000 Series and the ASR 1000 Series are the routers currently enabled for this exciting new application hosting model. Together they represent the vast majority of routers in enterprise branch offices and headend locations. We’ve found that small branches and WAN headends often have limited VM infrastructure, and that it is often challenging to procure new hardware or server to host auxiliary services or applications. In such situations, using existing routers to host custom third-party applications can be both more cost and time efficient.

The introduction of a KVM-based hosting environment in IOS XE 3.17 provided the right opportunity for us to integrate with Cisco. ThousandEyes is one of the first technology partners to certify support for Enterprise Agents on Cisco routers.

Getting Visibility into Your Cisco WAN

Our support for Cisco IOS XE started with interest from within Cisco. Cisco IT uses ThousandEyes Cloud and Enterprise Agents to monitor business critical cloud and internal services, like Salesforce and Webex. While Cloud Agents are managed and hosted by ThousandEyes, the Enterprise Agents were managed by Cisco and hosted on standalone hardware like Mac Mini’s. Cisco’s deployment of ISRs and ASRs were a logical choice to extend visibility across the Cisco WAN.

With Enterprise Agents collocated on existing Cisco hardware, you can extend network visibility to wherever you have an ISR or ASR router. Network monitoring services can now piggyback atop WAN services, doubling down on your existing hardware investments. This significantly optimizes operational costs by reducing the footprint of devices that needs to be managed and certified by IT teams.

You’ll get an inline perspective, directly from your branch or WAN router to key applications and network infrastructure. You can use this to map out WAN circuits (especially with new reverse path functionality), understand Internet access topologies and measure the connectivity to internal or cloud-hosted applications.

With correlation across layers of application and network delivery — Web, Voice, TCP/IP, DNS, BGP — Enterprise Agents give you new insights into how your WAN is performing. And with Path Visualization you’ll be able to understand traffic paths from all across your global WAN to key data centers, Internet peers and external SaaS or IaaS environments.

Putting Your Routers to Work

This new Enterprise Agent deployment model is a simple and easy way to extend the visibility wherever you have an ISR or ASR router. If you already have a ThousandEyes account you can deploy on Cisco devices today; check out the new download option in the Enterprise Agent settings. And if you don’t have an account, sign up and take Enterprise Agents for a test drive. We’ll also be demoing this at CiscoLive! Las Vegas next week; stop by booth #2244 to check it out!

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