Why the "last 6 feet" are the hardest to troubleshoot
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

We talk a lot about the larger wide area network when discussing the biggest Work-From-Anywhere (WFA) challenges facing IT teams today. But nothing is more challenging than trying to make a local impact on end-user experience when you’re many miles away from the source of the problem.

This was the resounding theme of the past year and a half, as many of the most prevalent roadblocks to productivity took place not on the last mile, but the last 50 feet of an end-user’s connection.

But as anyone in IT knows, troubleshooting network issues is an exercise in segmentation (or, in many cases, finger-pointing). First, you confirm where the problem is and isn’t, then you cut the ‘is’ problem domain into manageable sections you can lean into with your tools, skills, and knowable details.

For at-scale WFA user populations accessing business critical apps, this troubleshooting usually entails first learning if the app in question is up, which can be determined with performance monitoring from known states, usually inside & outside the corporate firewall. From there, IT will rule-in or rule-out the underlying infrastructure by looking at the WAN and ISP circuits connecting users to their ‘next hops’ (either corporate VPN tunnel, managed WAN, or last-mile ISP) in the app delivery path.

It’s often the case that everything at this step checks out, but users are still reporting issues that may be intermittent or one-off, though still hindering productivity.

This is when IT teams need even more granular visibility into the “last 6 feet” of a network connection; that is, the hyper-local, user-centric insight into the direct wired or WiFi connectivity linking users to the larger network, as well as information around user devices themselves.

The “6 feet” number comes from the default length of an ethernet cable that end users would traditionally need to make a wired connection to the larger WAN. But in a WiFi-dominated WFA world this distance is more symbolic—though the necessary visibility to diagnose many of the most prevalent issues is often even closer to the end user than 6 feet.

Our native Workstation Monitoring Points now shine a bright light on WiFi and endpoint host metrics to give enterprise IT teams true end-to-end visibility into specific user experiences. This granular visibility is essential in a WFA world as the “remote office” categorization now virtually applies to each employee workstation.

This new level of visibility allows IT to expand their accountability alongside their growing network footprint, granting them per-user visibility that will remain critical as more and more workers take on a permanent remote function in some capacity—and even for users returning to the office.

By adding per-user insight that covers an entire localized environment and adding this to the existing end-to-end insight of AppNeta Performance Manager, IT can dramatically speed up mean time to resolution in almost every context. Teams can immediately determine if a user is on VPN or not, for instance, whether they’re connected via WiFi or ethernet, or even if a device’s CPU or memory resources are being over-taxed locally.

This is an essential level of granularity that will become table stakes for visibility no matter what the future of work looks like.


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Filed Under: Performance Monitoring, Industry Insights

Tags: network management , host monitoring , application monitoring , network monitoring , future of work , remote work , work from anywhere , work from home , cloud , applications , network performance , cpu , host metrics , host , wireless , wifi