Market-leading packet flow technology
Modern application delivery chains involve a lot of different infrastructure tiers: web servers, load balancers, firewalls, middleware, databases, mainframes, storage, etc. For any one user transaction there are sometimes dozens or even hundreds of component sub-transactions that combine to deliver a result to the user.
This presents a large challenge from an application performance management perspective because there are so many moving parts that require instrumentation. Even once a costly and time-consuming component instrumentation project has occurred it is still difficult to determine what components are involved in a user transaction and what is causing the issue when problems occur. Organisations spend millions of dollars on unwieldy APM deployments and still can’t find the root cause.
To understand why NetScout is so much more than a network performance tool you have to understand Packet Flow technology. This is enabled by putting passive probe appliances on the network at key locations where they can see traffic between all these infrastructure tiers. This means that they can observe all the user transactions as well as the component sub-transactions, and by deep packet inspection can see what is going on at the application layer. They can extract application response time as well as any application-specific information or error codes.
This amounts to continuous 24×7 monitoring of every transaction and transaction component on the network, with the ability to trend and identify anomalies as well as set static service levels.
Hosts and protocols can also be clustered as application services, with a dashboard that shows the health of the services and the underlying application components.
One feature of the network probes is that they also function as packet analyzers, with large storage arrays that capture all the packets from which the performance data is extracted. This means that if there is any failure, the raw packet trace is only a few clicks away. A wise man once said “Trust nobody, but the packets don’t lie”. The packet trace is the ultimate source of truth in finger-pointing discussions, and can illuminate issues that system monitoring tools can’t find.
These features explain why NetScout is much more than traditional network monitoring software, because it goes beyond network performance and gives operators a window into application performance.