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Digital Experience Monitoring In the Age of Distributed Work

“Why is Exchange so slow? I’ve checked everything in the O365 administration portal. The MTAs, the DB and the service are green. It must be networking! Can you check the network? I am sending the ticket to you!”

The company I worked at previously was an early customer of the Exchange O365. And the company ran on email. Every message, file, PowerPoint and design document was sent via email. If email was not working, the company ground to a halt.

Moving a vital service from the private data center to the Cloud, at that time, was new. While the business benefited from no longer needing to manage servers, patching and support, the challenge became how to measure performance. When a service is in the private data center, you had control of almost every aspect of the service. You had access to every layer of the service. Hardware, virtualization, storage, OS, application and network. All could be instrumented, tuned and, if needed adjusted. And because network challenges were mostly limited to the data center, the issue of latency did not often enter the picture.

Moving to the Cloud flipped the script from a monitoring perspective. The old monitoring tools no longer worked. Instead, you had to leverage the vendor’s portal. Your view into the service was limited. You must trust the provider provisioned their hardware properly, that they tuned their systems to meet demand, that the service was patched and most of all, since the service was no longer in your private, controlled data center, latency now entered the picture front and center.

After a few rounds with the Exchange engineers, my network team determined we needed a self-service tool to simply measure network and application performance and provide this critical telemetry to our Operations team as well as the Exchange team. It was an early version of what we today call Digital Experience Monitoring.

Where is the Problem?

If you are not familiar with Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM), put simply, it is a tool to measure the performance of the application user/device, the network path and the application.  The concept is to gain a view into how the device/user to application interaction is performing.  As performance can be degraded by a number of issues; high CPU on a device, a bad software patch, poor wi-fi, poor Internet performance or an over utilized application front end load balancer to name a few, finding the needle in the technology haystack is a difficult challenge for the modern enterprise.  This became even more apparent over the last 24 months with the rise of the distributed workforce.  Now both applications and the workforce live outside the walls of the modern enterprise company.  Thus, having a tool to measure digital experience is no longer a want or desire.  It is a requirement!

Bringing Harmony to Networks, Applications and the Modern Workforce

Axis, as part of our Atmos 2022 Summer Release is excited to announce the Atmos Experience Solution. The service ensures that the IT Helpdesk remains in tune with end user device issues, like spikes in CPU use, network outages and application challenges. The solution is built on three pillars to enable you to successfully understand how your devices, networks and applications are performing while leveraging our award-winning Security Service Edge (SSE) platform.

3 Pillars of Atmos Digital Experience

Simple – The Atmos Experience solution was built on the principle of simplicity with an eye towards the “shift left” movement for IT Operations.  For far too long, tooling to measure and monitor applications have been complex, hard to understand and targeted at the engineering teams.  Axis understands this and developed a tool which is focused on the critical elements without attempting to “boil the ocean”.  The design intent is to quickly detect the problem, alert the end user, arm them with the relevant information (i.e. your wifi is slow) or quickly escalate to the first level of support for resolution.  Doing so reduces the burden on an already taxed IT staff and promotes self-service as the modern workforce has become more adept at solving IT issues due to the consumerization of technology.

Solid – Rather than acquiring a solution or building yet another product, Axis is leveraging its Zero Trust foundation to bring the Atmos Experience platform to market.  Founded in 2019, Axis’s ZTNA platform utilizes modern componentry; containers, elastic databases, CI/CD pipelines, Service Proxies, Services Buses and distributed storage to name a few.  The result is the platform can run on a number of the major Cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud and so on.  The end result, development is fast and the innovation cycle is quick.  While Atmos Experience will focus on users/devices and applications first, adding in additional features will be simple and driven by customer feedback.  That’s right, we are building the product based on feedback directly from our customers.  These are the teams who use the product daily in the field and who are tackling the challenges of distributed applications and now, the distributed workforce!!

Scalable – Built for the future.  The Atmos Experience solution is available across each one of the Atmos platform’s 350 PoPs. At the backend, the solution is pulling from a data lake which includes not only network telemetry but insights from the Atmos agent and security data.  Together, this will allow, long term, for queries into the state of your network, devices and applications.  As an example, an Operations team member will be able to proactively probe the data lake to understand trends which could impact the workforce.  For instance, what if, after conducting a review of recent tickets, the team sees a rise in tickets involving application performance which is not caused by the network or the application.  Instead, the devices are suspected.  What if the operations team had the ability to ask the data lake about the device and it returned a result that 100% of the tickets involved older laptops with minimum levels of memory?  That would be valuable!  This moves the Operations team from a reactive to proactive stance.  Helping the modern enterprise to move faster, at a lower cost and support the demands of the modern workforce is what Axis Atmos is all about.

If you want to hear more about how to bring harmony to your enterprise, reach out to the team at Axis.  We’d be honored to work with you and help you eliminate the complexity at the intersection of networking and security!

About the Author

John Spiegel
John Spiegel

Director of Strategy

John Spiegel has 25 years of experience running global networks and managing infrastructure. He is an industry pioneer in software defined networking (SDN) and software defined WANs (SD-WAN). John has spoken on the topic network transformation at industry conferences such as Gartner, InterOp, VMWorld, Palo Alto Networks Ignite as well as executive roundtable discussions. He has also been a customer advisor to companies like VMware, Palo Alto Networks and Cisco Systems. Disruptive startups have also leveraged John’s knowledge to bring products to market resulting in successful exits. When not helping companies on their journey to modernize and secure their networks, John can be found cycling on the backroads of Oregon.

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