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Case Study

Monitoring Critical Users Builds Credibility at UCaaS Leader

  • IT ROLE: Senior Critical Situation Manager
  • COMPANY: Collaboration tool provider for global enterprises, with voice, messaging and video services
  • NEEDS: Critical customer troubleshooting
  • RESULTS: Faster MTTR, know problems before customer does

A busy network engineer leads a modern IT support team at a growing collaboration tool provider. He uses AppNeta Performance Manager to troubleshoot issues for customers all over the U.S.

This network support team leader isn’t new to using monitoring products, but AppNeta’s flexibility has made an impression. “I had used other products, like ThousandEyes,” he says. “Most of those don’t offer to customers that you can plug them in and test part of your network.”

Finding AppNeta: “We first tried AppNeta in the network operations center (NOC). We needed troubleshooting and monitoring for our apps, plus better alerting.”

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What the Customers Need

The company’s end users, in this case, are its customers deploying the product. “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. “We started sending AppNeta devices to customers for a week or two to gather data at their site. Then I could speak to the customer and be educated. Without a tool on site, we’re flying blind.”

A new way to support customers. The IT team using AppNeta is a new kind of group within the company that’s proving itself very effective. The network engineer, who’s got many years of experience, manages the critical accounts, working on a team that’s both technical and customer-centered.

“We’re doing a beta test of this way of addressing customer needs,” he says. “We had to triage the most needy. These are the ‘broken arm’ customers. We get them comfortable, then they go back into the regular support queue.” The team focuses intently on the customers in this queue to find and solve the root cause of the issue, whether it’s network-related or needs the development team’s help. Some customers may have multiple issues, only some of which are addressed by the critical care team before they go back to regular support.

When a critical customer reports a problem, the network engineer puts an AppNeta appliance at that location. 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. “I can use what I’ve captured from the device to see what was actually happening.” Eventually, he plans to get devices out to many customer sites, and would like to offer the device as part of the customer package

The Problems Discovered With Monitoring

Provider issues. Using AppNeta, the team has solved some tricky customer problems. In one case, they found that the performance issue was a caused by a circuit problem. The circuit provider was bouncing at the carrier level. The network engineer’s team identified packet loss from the device and were able to work with the carrier to fix it.

Recreational apps. Another customer’s entire sales floor was experiencing bad call quality. The critical accounts team used AppNeta’s Usage analysis to see that just two users were dragging down call quality with their use of YouTube, Pandora and Dropbox. They alerted the customer who then shut down the users.

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.

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The Positive Results for IT and Users

“We see the issue and can fix it quickly” using AppNeta, said the network engineer. He estimates they save valuable troubleshooting time with AppNeta; what took about an hour before now likely takes 30-40 minutes. They 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 well. “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’s support team has been useful too. “They’re smart and the most responsive, most educated of any support team I work with,” said the network engineer. “They teach you how to fix something and give options.”

Next, the team plans to create more templates for alerting. “My mission now is coming up with several flavors of users, then setting up templates to make it easier to notice changes,” the network engineer said. He’s also interested in using AppNeta’s packet capture capabilities more in-house and delving further into other capabilities. AppNeta has become an indispensable tool for this cutting-edge IT support team.

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