Categories Networking TechnologyPerformance Monitoring

UCaaS Company’s Proactive IT Team Solves Critical Problems With AppNeta

We’ve got a lot of interesting, forward-thinking customers here at AppNeta, and one network engineer at a unified communications as a service (UCaaS) vendor recently told us about his proactive IT team and company’s efficient support setup. It really embodies the new way that IT teams are thinking about people and process to meet user needs.

For this company, a collaboration tool provider, their critical care IT team is a new kind of support group. The provider offers voice, messaging and video services for global organizations. The users in this case are the company’s customers.

The experienced network engineer on the support team calls the group a beta test of a new way of addressing customer needs quickly. The team members are both technical and customer-focused, and triage tickets and calls from the IT users with the most serious problems.

“These are the ‘broken arm’ customers. We get them comfortable, then they go back into the regular support queue,” the network engineer says. The team focuses intently on these customers to find the root cause of any problem and decide whether it’s network-related or needs the development team’s help.

Before finding AppNeta, the UCaaS provider lacked the proactive approach to performance they wanted. “We kept hearing customers say ‘How come you didn’t tell me I had a problem before I noticed I had a problem?’” says the network engineer.

Now, the company uses AppNeta Performance Manager to troubleshoot issues for customers all over the U.S. They found AppNeta to fill the gap they had in troubleshooting critical customer issues. The IT team first used AppNeta in the network operations center (NOC) to monitor applications and set up alerts.

When a critical customer reports a problem, the network engineer sends an AppNeta appliance there. He also uses a test appliance at his house to explore potential problems and solutions. “If you can show what you can do on a small network, it’s easy to show what you can do on a large network,” he says.

The network engineer had used other performance monitoring products, including ThousandEyes, but the flexibility of AppNeta really made an impression compared to others. “Most of those don’t offer to customers that you can plug them in and test part of your network,” he says.

Uncovering Key Issues With Performance Monitoring

Since using AppNeta, the IT support team has solved some complex problems in a much faster time frame than before. They’ve found various root causes of issues:

1. Provider problems. In one case, the IT support team found that the performance issue was caused by a circuit problem. The circuit provider was bouncing at the carrier level. The network engineer’s team identified packet loss from the AppNeta device, and worked with the carrier to fix the problem.

2. Recreational apps. A customer’s entire sales floor was experiencing poor call quality. The critical accounts team found through AppNeta’s Usage analysis that just two users were dragging down call quality with their use of YouTube, Pandora and Dropbox. They alerted the customer, who addressed the app issue with the users.

3. Bandwidth shortage. Proactive alerting also let the team know that one customer was nearing the upper limit of bandwidth. “We upgraded their device from 10 to 20MB on the MPLS network, and avoided a catastrophic event,” said the network engineer.


UCaaS provider sees voice loss on the network

Creating a Proactive IT Team

The mean time to resolution (MTTR) has gotten a lot faster for the network support team. “We see the issue and can fix it quickly” using AppNeta, said the network engineer. He estimates that troubleshooting that took about an hour before AppNeta now takes 30-40 minutes. He and his team can also measure progress better by seeing exactly what issues have been fixed and what still remain.

Knowing there’s an issue before the customer does is important is essential. “I get an alert, I can call the carrier and provider and get started on fixing it,” the network engineer said. “Then on customer calls, I can tell them we’re working on it already.” He has also updated the company’s network configurations after seeing AppNeta data about LAN and vLAN traffic. AppNeta has become an indispensable tool for this cutting-edge IT support team.

Christine Cignoli: Christine Cignoli is a technology writer based in Boston. She's written about storage, data center infrastructure, virtualization and enterprise apps for more than ten years, and has a master's in publishing and writing from Emerson College.