Managing networks has become more complex than ever before. Hybrid clouds, SD-WANs, off-premises solutions and the many other flavors of networking have made it almost impossible to get a full picture of network performance, activity and connectivity. Add to that the demands of the COVID-19 crisis, which has further distributed users across hundreds–if not thousands–of remote connections, and you have a formula for losing sight of what is really happening on the network, as well as identifying and resolving issues.
Pittsburgh-based NetBeez aims to bring normalcy back to network monitoring with a suite of monitoring and management tools that fully integrate into a platform that delivers clarity around the many intricacies of today’s distributed networks.
A closer look at NetBeez
It is an age-old axiom that you can not effectively manage what you don’t understand, and NetBeez aims to bring understanding to complex distributed networks so they can be more easily managed. NetBeez uses a platform paradigm to bring together the data gathered from numerous sensors to build a complete end-to-end analysis of what is happening on the network.
The company offers a plethora of agents that address traffic across networks, wifi, end points, virtual machines and even end-user operating systems, which in turn gives an unprecedented view into the inner workings of network traffic. The NetBeez management server is available as an on-premises virtual machine, a public cloud hosted service, or as a service hosted by Net Beez, meaning that administrators have full flexibility when it comes to deployment, usage and scale.
NetBeez also offers sensors that can be integrated into existing networking equipment, such as what is available from Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks, implementations of KVM (Linux kernel-based virtual machine) and others. Cloud instances, such as AWS, GCP and Azure are also supported, as are Linux and Docker containers. The platform also integrates with Windows and Mac endpoints.
Ultimately, the idea with NetBeez is the ability to gather all of the network information and provide the analytics around it so that administrators can better understand performance across the network, as well as how network performance contributes to end user experiences. What’s more, NetBeez also gives insight into how applications and other services perform as related to the capabilities of the network.
Hands on with NetBeez
The NetBeez server can be installed in different ways. Networks that are highly distributed may choose to go with NetBeez’s hosted server implementation. As a hosted service, initial setup and implementation proves to be point and click easy. The virtual machine and cloud-hosted implementations are almost just as easy, but require a little more configuration for setup. Agents prove also easy to install as well and depending upon the type of agent, can be deployed using traditional deployment tools, scripts or using MSI packages (MSI is an installer package file format used by Windows).
Administrators are able to use NetBeez for many different use cases, thanks to the intuitive layout of the management console and the amount of data captured by the system.
<WAN Monitoring Main Console>
<WAN Speed Test Console>
WAN monitoring provides real-time performance analytics as well as trend analysis across all of the WAN points of connectivity. The management console offers several different snapshots of activity, which is derived from captured end-to-end network telemetry. That telemetry is gathered by the platform’s agents and results in a treasure trove of analytical data.
From the console, administrators are able to quickly identify performance outliers, as well as act on alerts. Administrators can also drill down into the specifics of the WAN and delve into problems while also identifying anomalies and alerts.
Real-time data on network connectivity, internet speeds, DNS, web performance and numerous other elements are displayed on the dashboard. If a sensor detects an anomaly, that is also elevated on the dashboard, providing insight as to whether the problem is being caused by the network, an application, a wifi connection or something else.
The functionality of the dashboard serves multiple purposes, allowing administrators to determine the overall functionality of the network, while also guiding them to problem areas or issuing alerts. NetBeez offers integrations into Slack, Splunk, PagerDuty, and other workflow communications platforms that can notify the appropriate individuals of anomalies or other issues.
Trending and anomaly detection has several uses across an enterprise network, helping to ease the burdens of managing network infrastructure while also potentially keeping security teams aware of potentially malicious activity. NetBeez’s WAN monitoring proves useful for SLA enforcement, service assurance and remote detection as well.
NetBeez also offers a RESTful JSON-API (api.netbeez.net) that enables organizations to build custom service status dashboards, which can be shared with the end users or the help desk teams to increase their efficiency in resolving Level 1 tickets
<WiFi Monitoring Console>
More and more enterprises are deploying WiFi and other wireless technologies across branch and remote offices, as well as on their primary sites. However, WiFi has proven to be a somewhat difficult technology to monitor and manage, thanks to both the portable nature of devices and the potential interference present in the wireless spectrum. NetBeez tackles the conundrum of Wifi performance and connectivity measurement using some dashboards that are tuned to identify problems. What’s more, the use of agents gives the NetBeez console the full spectrum of WiFi visibility. In other words, agents report on the end to end connectivity of devices that use WiFi connections. The agents capture data such as latency, packet loss and network speed in real-time, as well as generate data on WiFi connection timing, association, authentication and DHCP.
One very impressive feature offered is the ability to offer analytics based upon the client system’s perspective. NetBeez records endpoint data, such as signal strength and link quality, associated band, channel and BSSID, and bit rate established. Analytics module is able to run remote SSID scans, support multiple SSIDs and so forth.
The company also offers WiFi sensors that can be deployed to detect signals and traffic, which work in conjunction with WiFi endpoints. Windows and macOS systems also feed NetBeez additional information, such as connection and disconnection events, as well as other metrics. Data gathering happens in real time and is reflected on the dashboard.
Administrators will be able to quickly track down WiFi issues with NetBeez, and real-time data is stored for historical review, reporting and further analysis. Garnering a complete understanding of how WiFi is performing is becoming ever more critical for network managers, especially those that have to manage and troubleshoot remote locations. The ability to determine if a problem is signal related or hardware related can be a major time saver for troubleshooting WiFi issues, as well as monitoring WiFi for anomalies that may indicate a brute force attack is happening.
Remote Worker Monitoring
<Remote Worker Console>
With the Covid crisis driving businesses of all sizes to embrace the remote worker paradigm, those responsible for IT and networking are faced with new challenges. Today, IT help desks and administrators have to support workers that may be using novel connection methods, which may combine cellular ethernet with VPNs, or hotspot WiFi with other connection technologies to reach into the network to access applications.
What’s more, those workers may be using unmanaged or personal devices to access company resources and perform their jobs. Simply put, no two connections may be exactly the same and there can be a lot of variance from user to user to location to location. Many administrators have found it almost impossible to troubleshoot problems without the necessary telemetry or the ability to go on site to physically check the operating environment.
NetBeez is addressing those issues and more with the concept of enabling remote endpoints to participate in the gathering and reporting of critical network telemetry. Administrators can install agents on remote worker endpoints, which then report all of the pertinent information to the NetBeez server in real time. That allows administrators to drill down into issues such as network connectivity and performance, WiFi network monitoring, VPN availability, Web and DNS checks and VoIP testing.
The gathered telemetry gives administrators insight into remote user issues, while also providing information from the remote users point of view. Ultimately, that accelerates root cause analysis and provides statistical data that can be used to define better access policies. What’s more, connections without an agent can be detected and become part of a security analysis to detect potentially malicious activity.
NetBeez rolls the critical information up into a management dashboard, which administrators can use to get a top-level holistic view of remote user connectivity environments, while also providing the ability to drill down into specific issues or create reports that reveal trends.
<Console for Multiple Clouds>
Multiple clouds are a reality for many businesses today. Whether they are using multiple cloud instances for failover, or for geographical separation, or even as part of a hybrid application scheme, the simple fact of the matter is that the more cloud connections a business has, the more points of failure there are.
That said, there is another factor a savvy enterprise has to consider: Are those multiple-cloud instances meeting SLA requirements, and are those multiple-cloud instances delivering the performance and capabilities being paid for? NetBeez is able to provide answers to those queries with its public-cloud monitoring capabilities. Currently, NetBeez offers cloud monitoring agents for AWS, Azure and GCP, and it also offers virtual agents that can be run on cloud or on-premises data-center instances.
NetBeez uses those agents to report on the telemetry of those cloud instances and gives an end-to-end view of performance metrics, which gives insight into hybrid network performance. NetBeez acts as a system to automatically detect service interruptions or anomalies and record the real-time information. The gathered data can be used for analysis, trending and so forth, but more importantly, it gives administrators visibility into the cloud network.
That visibility proves especially critical for those looking to deal with multi-cloud performance issues. Since most enterprises do not own the related cloud infrastructure, there is little visibility into what is occurring from the cloud-service provider’s point of view. All the typical cloud administrator knows is that there may be a problem, but it is difficult to track down.
With NetBeez sensors deployed, cloud traffic becomes more visible, as well as the routes the traffic makes, and the connections used. The agents/sensors monitor traffic and can also generate synthetic traffic to better determine root causes of problems or measure performance.
A heaping of automation is included as well, to enable the NetBeez platform to detect problems and inform administrators of those problems as well. Automated incident detection is driven by sensors that detect traffic flow in real time and are able to detect performance degradation, clueing administrators into a potential problem before it becomes critical to operations.
The distributed nature of NetBeez’s monitoring makes it easier to isolate problem areas in a multi-cloud environment, while also populating the console with pertinent information to identify and resolve problems proactively. Reporting gives administrators the ability to identify trends, as well as take into account cumulative performance and operation.
Administrators can also define tests to develop baselines across the multi cloud environments. End-to-end performance monitoring tests can be executed as needed and are highly customizable, allowing administrators to get valuable snapshots of performance to be used to compare against real time metrics.
NetBeez has brought together an impressive suite of monitoring capabilities that bring what were once many different monitoring chores under a unified umbrella of network monitoring. The ability to monitor and measure performance across multiple clouds, endpoints, WANs, local networks, and even WiFi networks should prove valuable for any enterprise looking to unify the management of their heterogeneous cloud enabled networks.
NetBeez has the potential to replace dozens of stand alone tools, while also granting increased visibility to those incharge of keeping WANs, LANs, Clouds, and remote sites working properly.
NetBeez provides a yearly subscription model targeting mid-market and enterprise customers and is available now. For more information, please visit https://netbeez.net
Frank Ohlhorst is a veteran IT product reviewer and analyst who has been an eWEEK regular for many years.