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Critical KPIs for monitoring WFH performance
by Greg Ross Greg Ross on

This blog is the first in a series from our Solutions Consultant team giving their point of view on the most pressing challenges facing IT teams in 2021.

Let’s be honest. Working from home has its challenges, particularly during the pandemic. For those of us with children there are a host of potential pitfalls. One need only look at some of the zoom highlights over the past year about kids entering a room screaming during a live broadcast interview or dogs barking, and then the priceless scenarios of a virtual meeting ending in a bathroom visit or showing off polka dot boxers.

Then there is remote learning and all of the applications and devices demanding 4K video resolution before, during and after the time students are trying to get work done along with the parents. The network is just one area we need to concern ourselves with, but as we know it’s often the most important.

Hopefully by now, each of your users has a good working space with the necessary boundaries and rules in place for children, partners, and pets. But what if they sound like they’re “underwater” on phone calls or team meetings? What if they are experiencing delays when working with the CRM, HRIS, or ERP system? Do your users end up switching to a hotspot just to get something done? How many users have given up thinking IT is too busy with bigger problems and everyone is in the same situation so just make the best of the new “normal”?

IT Operational questions in the WFH environment:

  • How many tickets are IT teams handling on a daily basis for loss of connectivity and poor application performance?
  • How long do those tickets take to resolve? What teams are involved?
  • What steps do you need to take to resolve them? Business class internet upgrades, new wireless equipment and/or router replacements? Physical network connections in lieu of wifi?
  • Do you have a playbook, script or workflow for these issues? Is every WFH user treated the same regardless of position or department?
  • What type of visibility would make the difference? Do you need to differentiate between voice and data?
  • What about the potential performance impact of VPNs, proxies, SD WAN. and CASB services? Is traffic being backhauled through the data center? How are users connecting to SaaS apps and cloud infrastructure?

The point of all these questions is to show that we need a better approach to gaining visibility into the WFH environment. Essentially, an approach that doesn’t rely on monitoring just what we own and manage but is able to see the underlying network and application performance from any source to any destination. Continuous monitoring should provide a baseline and a proactive way of identifying the most relevant metrics related to voice and data traffic impacting your critical business applications.

Key Performance Indicators

Data loss, jitter, latency and RTT are common KPI’s used to identify baselines and set alert thresholds.

Data loss, jitter, latency and RTT are common KPI’s used to identify baselines and set alert thresholds.

One common WFH scenario is connectivity to cloud infrastructure such as AWS and Azure. In both scenarios, customers often leverage AWS Express Route, Azure Direct Connect, or some other dedicated VPN solution for connectivity to internal applications and services hosted in the public cloud. Customers often look to establish a baseline or gold standard for performance to be able to identify changes over time. What are the performance trends at the branch office or data center vs. the WFH user?

Regardless of the configuration used, IT operations need visibility to outages, route changes, and performance degradation to identify the root cause for WFH users. But how do we pinpoint poor performance and validate the domain in which the problem is occurring? What metrics do we focus on to make the case for a performance problem? Can we obtain these metrics without impacting the performance of the WFH user? Where do we instrument from?

Appneta measures Total, Available and utilized capacity on a continuous basis for each path using our patented TruPath technology.

AppNeta measures Total, Available and utilized capacity on a continuous basis for each path using our patented TruPath technology.

MOS is boss!

From the AppNeta perspective, our customers report that capacity, data loss, Jitter, RTT, and MOS are the most important metrics to track. In the case of the WFH user, we’re measuring this directly from their system (Windows/macOS) using our Native Monitoring Point running as a software agent.

Voice metrics, particularly MOS values are used as a key operational metric by organizations concerned with end user experience. Appneta TruPath technology includes voice packets used to simulate a voice call in order to identify network degradation.

Voice metrics, particularly MOS values are used as a key operational metric by organizations concerned with end user experience. AppNeta TruPath technology includes voice packets used to simulate a voice call in order to identify network degradation.

Multipath Route Visualization

Identify end to end connectivity, route changes, AS changes and hop by hop analysis for each business critical application or resource.

Identify end to end connectivity, route changes, AS changes and hop by hop analysis for each business critical application or resource.

Our Native Monitoring Point gives IT end-to-end visibility from the home user system as the source to critical application targets to validate key performance indicators for the WFH user.

This type of instrumentation can be scaled from 5 users to 5000 or more through standard templates and typical deployment methods for user systems such as SCCM, Jamf, and Airwatch. So instead of reactive and ad hoc troubleshooting of WFH users, identify these key metrics on a continuous basis for more proactive IT operations.

Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list of benefits to continuous network and application performance monitoring. We’ll continue to explore other challenges to WFH monitoring and focus on the metrics that matter in future blogs from the SC POV.

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Filed Under: performance monitoring

Tags: SaaS, UC, UCaaS, analytics, data, IT, enteprise IT, digital transformation, cloud computing, KPIs, KPI, key performance indicators, performance indicators, remote workforce, remote work, work from anywhere, work from home, network performance management, network management, network performance monitoring, performance management, performance monitoring

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