Introducing Endpoint Agent: Extending Network Visibility to End Users

Posted by on August 10, 2016

We all know the story: Your users are leaving the corporate network and getting work done from anywhere and everywhere, including home offices, coffee shops and airports. The applications they use to get work done are also outside the corporate network and being hosted by a potpourri of 3rd-party SaaS vendors. Even your own applications are leaving your network, but at the end of the day you’re still responsible for ensuring their timely delivery at all times of the day. You know this, you’re frustrated by it, but you’re completely helpless to do anything about it. Sound familiar?

The Challenge of Monitoring Employee Network Connectivity

When one of your users calls and says they’re having performance issues, can you tell:

  • If they have a strong Wi-Fi connection?
  • Is their local gateway responding quickly?
  • Are they connecting through a VPN? A proxy?
  • What ISPs were traversed to reach their destination?
  • If the destination is even responding?

Without a remote desktop session, wireshark and a host of CLI commands, this fidelity of data is not easy to come by.

So how are you expected to understand and troubleshoot an employee’s Internet experience from who knows where, traversing who knows what networks? You can’t put a packet capture device in every one of your employee’s homes. You can’t poll the access points and routers at your shared workspaces around the globe. You can’t manage or monitor the networks you don’t own…it’s un-possible!

Say Hello to the ThousandEyes Endpoint Agent

But with today’s announcement, it is now possible: ThousandEyes Endpoint Agent gives you a new vantage point that runs on employee laptops and desktops. Data from Endpoint Agents provides complete visibility into the performance of your applications, as well as the underlying networks that support application delivery, no matter where or how your users are connecting to the Internet and your corporate network.

With islands of your network floating around the globe inside your employees’ laptops, you’ll need to look to the endpoint to have any shot at measuring what you care about. It’s the only way.

Not Just Another Endpoint Client

But just having a presence on the endpoint isn’t enough. The secret sauce that’s propelled the success of ThousandEyes is our ability to reach into ANY network (including all the ones you don’t own), extract an understanding of its performance in the context of the application in question, and visualize that for you.

It’s the use of that unique approach, from the vantage point of your employees’ machines, that allows the Endpoint Agent to see issues through the eyes of your employees. It does this by delivering data and context, proving an understanding of not only application performance (half of the problem), but also network performance (the other half).

Figure-1
Figure 1: A user session showing the network connection via Wi-Fi, VPN and proxy to Salesforce.

How Endpoint Agent Works

So how does it work? Well we’d definitely suggest you start a trial and experience it for yourself.

In short, Endpoint Agent is client software you deploy to the Windows and Mac machines in your organization. It’s super easy to install, it’s so lightweight that your users don’t notice it at all, and there’s zero management required once you’ve done the initial deployment. It quietly gathers application and network performance data for the browser-based web applications you choose—no privacy or productivity impact to speak of.

Endpoint Agents measure end-user experience by automatically extracting performance data from the browser, via extensions for Chrome and Internet Explorer, whenever your users go to a site you’ve chosen to monitor. This browser extension also triggers the collection of network performance data. We gather details from the operating system to understand VPN connections, proxies and Wi-Fi statistics. And we kick off network tests that build the magical Path Visualization our customers have come to know, love, and depend on. Note that this is different from, and complementary to, our Cloud and Enterprise Agents which generate synthetic data via tests that run at regular intervals.

As is our M.O., we then combine that data into intuitive and easy-to-understand visualizations. Understanding a user’s performance issues a thousand miles away is exactly as easy to troubleshoot as an issue down the hall in Accounting.

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Figure 2: Path Visualization of network connections from endpoints, on the left, to application servers, on
the right, with a VPN (lock) and Proxy (shield) in part of the path.

How You Can Use Endpoint Agents

As we have been battle testing Endpoint Agents, they have proven valuable in three key situations:

  • Monitoring SaaS application deployment and ongoing performance. Using Salesforce globally? Or rolling out Office 365? Endpoint Agent gives you rich performance metrics you can’t get anywhere else.
  • Troubleshooting remote workers. Have executives and professionals that are always on the road? Or support and sales teams that work from home and use a VPN? You’ll no longer need to remote desktop into their machines to validate and triage issues.
  • Monitoring your enterprise WAN and LAN. Have fussy access points? Or error-prone proxies? Endpoint Agent ditches the need for painful Wireshark sessions and remote router logins.

Using Endpoint Agent data means you can see important trends across various locations and populations of your distributed user population. You can zoom into a specific session for a specific user in a specific location. You can reconstruct intermittent issues with data that is automatically collected. You’ll be armed with all of the required context to troubleshoot an issue and bring it to resolution infinitely faster—not days or weeks, but minutes—than you previously could.

Figure-3
Figure 3: 90-day average of response time to Salesforce for ThousandEyes employees around the United States.

Making Better Sense of Your Network

At ThousandEyes, we know how today’s “corporate networks” work—we live it every day ourselves—they’re complex, messy, dynamic and unpredictable. You own and manage less and less of it every day.

But cloud and mobility are powerful technologies that can help enable your business to succeed and differentiate against competitors. They can also help you acquire and retain talented and motivated people by enabling them to be happy, productive contributors no matter where they work from.

Rather than struggling against the inevitable, we’d rather help you understand and harness it using our new Endpoint Agent. If you’d like more information, please register for our webinar to see a live demo. Or jump right into a trial to take it for a spin and see your user’s pain with a new set of eyes.

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