Network or the Device? Pinpoint the Cause with New SteelCentral Aternity and NetProfiler Integration


Picture this: Your users are encountering slowdowns and are filing trouble ticket after trouble ticket. Your support teams should be working together to solve the problem, but, stuck in their silos, the network staff says it doesn't look like a network problem, while the desktop crew is unable to track down any problems on user PCs. How do you move past finger-pointing to improve users' digital experiences?

With SteelCentral Aternity and SteelCentral NetProfiler, Riverbed has had the tools to monitor end-user devices and networks, respectively. And here's the big news: Aternity and NetProfiler are now integrated, with information from both tools never more than a right-click away during troubleshooting. That means you can quickly track down problems wherever they lie.

With Aternity and NetProfiler working together, your teams can:

  • Quickly determine if problems reported as network errors have their origin on end-user devices, and vice-versa
  • Avoid conflict between teams and ease trouble ticket handoffs

This integration is a first in the industry

Riverbed is likely the first to make it so easy to monitor users' digital experiences and troubleshoot problems spanning from the network to the end user device, because no other vendor has tools in its portfolio that can work together to make it happen. Let's take a closer look.

The problem that’s now solved

Imagine a typical troubleshooting scenario: an end user in Lisbon contacts the help desk to report that they can't access emails via Microsoft Exchange, and the Exchange servers are located in Frankfort.

In this situation your network support team will hope to spot the problem somewhere on the network between Lisbon and Frankfort, and deploy resources to fix it. Unfortunately, in many cases network staffers won't find any such problems. They’ll assume the problem is elsewhere and close out the ticket stating “no trouble found.” This leaves the end user, who just wants to access their emails, dissatisfied.

Attacking problems from either end

With the integration between Aternity and NetProfiler, your teams will have more options for analysis. If NetProfiler doesn't spot a problem on the network or in the server interface, they can determine with certainty whether the end user device is the problem.

Your analyst can right-click on the affected user's device right in NetProfiler and get immediate access to all the data available from Aternity, including:

  • The device’s installed and active applications
  • The device’s CPU and memory usage
  • The top processes consuming resources on the machine

With that information, the problem should come into better focus. For instance, TrustedInstaller may be consuming excessive CPU, as seen in Figure 1.

The reverse is also available

And, of course, the reverse troubleshooting workflow is possible as well. If the user complains first to the desktop support team, they'll check out the affected laptop to determine if some runaway process or an overloaded CPU is causing problems. With Aternity, you can tell if it’s a network or a server problem so you know whether to right click into SteelCentral NetProfiler to explore network issues or SteelCentral AppInternals to explore application issues.

No more passing the buck

One of the biggest benefits to the NetProfiler-Aternity integration is a reduction of conflict between silos in your support team. For instance, it's common for a netops troubleshooter who can't find a source for a reported problem on the network to blame the end user device and punt the trouble ticket to the desktop support team.

Without being given much information to go on, desktop support might resent the passing of the buck and have difficulty tracking down the source of the issue, leading them to insist that the problem really is on the network.

With the integration of NetProfiler and Aternity, these problems disappear. Support staff in each silo can see easily into the other realm, passing along exactly the information their colleagues need to deal with the problem.

For example, a desktop support staffer using Aternity can right-click to get information from NetProfiler about which local hosts are consuming too much bandwidth, as seen in Figure 2. That data can be sent to the network team so they can move towards a resolution. Instead of being at loggerheads, netops and desktop support can work together harmoniously to manage end-users' digital experiences.

Try before you buy

If you're already using Aternity SaaS and the latest version of NetProfiler, there's great news: you have access to the integration features discussed here, today — and at no additional cost. If you're an on-prem customer, the functionality will be available in December.

If you're using only one of these products and want to experiment to see how the integration works — or if you aren't yet a Riverbed customer and are intrigued by what we've discussed here — you can test drive either or both offerings. Check out the free trials of Aternity and NetProfiler.