Are you supporting users working from home?
In these changing times of increased home-working, many discussions agree that a proportion of these people are highly likely to remain as home workers for the foreseeable future. If you need to support these people and their connections back to the office, or to hosted services, there’s going to be a number of distinct challenges ahead, so getting decent information about what’s happening will be key to ensuring delivery.
Any home-worker connection comprises several distinct elements, all of which can have an impact on the IT experience they receive:
People are finding a space in their homes to work from, some of which are more WiFi friendly than others. This can be due to the physical distance from their AP or the fact they’re nearer next-door’s AP than theirs! Or purely the sheer number of devices connected. All these things could be impacting their WiFi speed, and if you’re going to ask them to make a change can you even measure the impact it has?
The first thing to say here is not all ISP services are equal, far from it. What might be a perfectly acceptable service for browsing the internet in the evenings, can be a long way from something that’s going to reliably transfer files around and support an online meeting. Can you demonstrate the quality of the service they’re receiving and why they might need to invest in a better service?
Everyone understands the need for secure connections, but do they understand that the extra layer of security seriously impacts the speed things can work at? Getting reliable metrics on the stability of the connection and true data transfer rates can help set expectations to more realistic levels.
Connecting to SaaS / Connecting to the office Servers
In many ways connecting from home to a SaaS is going to provide a more reliable service than connecting to the office servers via a VPN connection. Afterall hosted services are designed to be accessed across the web, however there still tends to be issues with the volumes of connections they have to handle from other users aside from your own. To combat this, they use load balancers which proxy the connections, if users are complaining, what information can you see that separates the home IT experience from what’s happening in the cloud and the services they provide?
Connecting to the office servers in many ways gives you access to more information. They are your servers, so at least you can see some stats. However, the connection will be using LAN protocols, through a secure tunnel, over an internet connection, so plenty to go wrong in this path. The question is how can you get any clues as to where to start the troubleshooting process if performance is questioned?
Here’s a few solutions we recommend to help:
Install a client agent on the user’s PC which queries the details of their home WiFi connection.
Which allows you to recommend tweaks/fixes and monitor the differences these changes make.
Install an agent on the user’s PC which looks at the performance of each hops in the connection between the user and the services.
Monitors response time, including the performance per component to identify the cause of the delay.
Works equally well for looking at hosted or on-premise services.
Scrutinizer by Plixer
A NetFlow solution specifically aimed at monitoring activity through the key gateway points in your network such as VPN gateways, Load Balancers (or APIs) and virtual server clusters.
In these times of handling more connections and more data than before, accessing reliable stats is key.
Allegro Network Multimeter
If you need more detail, ship a small Allegro probe to the user, preconfigured, so all they have to do is plug it in.
You can then remotely view their data to see what’s going on.
View the stats, filter with ease and you can even drill down to the packet level.
The availability of historic data means it’s simple to look back if the issue happened in the past.