Poor Work-from-Home Application Performance Drives Digital Experience (DX) Monitoring

NetCraftsmen®

CHALLENGE

The forced transition to work-from-home (WHF), due to the 2020 pandemic, added an additional challenge to our customer’s application performance: the home network and its connection to the internet. Many workers found that their home networks were not as predictable as at-work networks, and the staff was often unprepared to fulfill their “new role” as a network administrator at home.

A combination of factors made it incredibly difficult for enterprise networking teams to monitor at-home workers’ application performance.

These included:

  • The large numbers of individuals who were now working from home
  • The plethora of consumer-level WiFi/wired routers and their limited configuration control
  • Most of the network paths involved were not under the control of the enterprise networking team
  • Traditional network monitoring tools didn’t apply to a WFH environment
  • Applications were delivered via a mixture of an enterprise data center, private cloud, and SaaS

Strategy

Our customer asked NetCraftsmen to help identify application performance problems. The solution needed to scale quickly to hundreds of at-home workers. Application performance needed to be measured right from the client workstation, taking into account the client network, the ISP, and the internet path to the applications. To provide a full picture, it also needed to capture information about the client’s local network connection—things like a duplex mismatch, link errors on wired connections, or poor WiFi signal strength and drops. With the scale involved, it needed to highlight the clients with the worst application performance, so the team didn’t have to dig through hundreds of individual reports.

Solution

We determined that a digital experience (DX) monitoring tool would be the easiest and best method to gain essential visibility into all the factors we knew could affect application performance. Prior experience with a routing problem between two remote ISPs led us to select Catchpoint, a DX monitoring system. It features a browser extension that can measure web-based application performance.  We also installed the client-side application to capture wired and wireless network interface data essential to diagnosing local network problems.

NetCraftsmen then deployed Catchpoint’s system in the client’s environment and analyzed the results. The data revealed some surprising and some not so surprising causes.

Result

The NetCraftsmen team immediately found several problems and provided directions to the client’s employees to fix them. The ultimate result was the improvement in remote employee productivity without overwhelming the client’s network team. NetCraftsmen worked to quickly identify and validate problems, and provide solutions the client’s network team could implement easily.

The deployment’s highlight was helping a key staff member whose applications were performing particularly poorly, especially real-time applications like video meetings. The client-side network analysis showed that the individual’s laptop had poor WiFi receive signal strength, indicating that the laptop was not communicating with the WiFi router very well. The individual was initially skeptical because the local WiFi network had been in place for some time. Temporarily replacing the WiFi network connection with a wired connection was the next step. The application problems immediately disappeared. The client’s team then put in place a plan to improve the team member’s home WiFi network.

NetCraftsmen has people with experience and expertise to solve challenging problems. We know the technologies to apply to specific problems, and we understand the processes required for the successful application of those technologies. You can Rest Assured® that we can solve your challenging network problems.

 

Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.

 

Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.

 

John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.