Table of Contents
Table of Contents
In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, organizations across industries increasingly rely on Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs) to streamline their network infrastructure and enhance connectivity between geographically dispersed locations. As the demand for efficient and reliable network performance continues to grow, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) face the challenge of effectively monitoring and managing these complex SD-WAN environments.
This case study explores how SATLX IT Services, a leading MSP specializing in network solutions, successfully optimized SD-WAN monitoring efficiency through the deployment of Obkio's Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) tool for their customer, Africa’s biggest distributor of wine and alcohol, Castel Afrique.
Specifically, the case study explores the implementation of this solution for a distributed continent-wide network monitoring setup, enabling SATLX to help their customer, Castel Afrique, proactively monitor and troubleshoot network issues across their various network locations in Africa.
SATLX IT Services is a Managed Service Provider dedicated to offering a wide range of services to businesses and specializing in systems, network and telecom services (SD-WAN, firewall, Cluster, VSat, and more). They were founded in 2009 in Mali, and now have offices in Senegal and France.
Today recognized and reinforced by around thirty employees, Satlx relies on its experience and continues to offer specialized services in IT solutions and equipment, networks and telecommunications / VSAT.
SATLX was on a mission to help their customers, Castel Afrique, increase the visibility of their SD-WAN network to monitor performance, identify and troubleshoot network issues, and measure the SD-WAN service promise made by their vendor in the SLA.
Castel Afrique is a major player in the African beverage industry, present in 21 countries with nearly 100 factories. Its portfolio includes 31 beer brands, 12 soft drinks brands, as well as glass and agricultural activities.
- Castel Afrique uses SD-WAN technology in all their network sites, which are distributed throughout several countries in the African continent
- In addition, their connections are also quite complex. They use Internet connections and private MPLS connections.
- In some cases, there are 3-4 Internet connections at once, and, they’re not able to use large links so they have to load balance on smaller links.
In certain cases, it can be very difficult to get good quality telecom in certain countries in the African continent, and in most cases, the prices are very high. In addition, there is a lot of oversubscription and throttling seen with telecom providers - they sell customers 100 Mbps, actually only provide these customers with 50 Mbps and sell other customers the other 50 Mbps. So customers pay extremely high prices for bandwidth subscriptions, but in reality, there isn’t enough bandwidth available, and this just leads to large amounts of network congestion
Because of this, there is a big need for speed and bandwidth, and an even more significant need for monitoring network performance to ensure that companies are actually getting the performance and bandwidth Telecom Providers are selling them.
Castel Afrique’s highly distributed network and complex connections, teamed with the state of telecom providers in Africa, make managing and monitoring network performance extremely important, but also difficult without the right tools.
In the realm of SD-WAN monitoring, the selection of the right solution can significantly impact the efficiency and success of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in delivering superior network performance to their clients. When faced with the critical task of monitoring a major customer's SD-WAN deployment, Castel Afrique, SATLX sought a solution that could provide comprehensive benefits and meet their stringent monitoring requirements.
That’s when SATLX found Obkio.
SATLX found Obkio’s Network Performance Monitoring tool while looking for an SD-WAN monitoring solution. More specifically, they wanted a tool to help them automate speed tests.
The SATLX and Obkio teams discussed the use case and immediately knew there would be a great fit.
Many businesses lack visibility of their SD-WAN network. Their SD-WAN vendors often exaggerate the promises of the network and application monitoring capabilities of their SD-WAN solutions, however, the native monitoring features don’t offer the depth and visibility needed for monitoring modern WAN networks.
Obkio is a dedicated end-to-end and distributed network and SD-WAN monitoring tool. This means that it can monitor SD-WAN network performance like an end-user and can also monitor each connection used by the SD-WAN appliance. Obkio is vendor-neutral and can monitor all SD-WAN networks, but in this case, the customer used a Meraki SD-WAN service.
Obkio's team worked closely with SATLX to understand the specific requirements and objectives of Castel Afrique's SD-WAN deployment. This involved conducting thorough assessments of the existing network architecture, identifying key monitoring points, and customizing the deployment strategy to suit the unique needs of each location.
Here were SATLX’s (the MSP) and Castel Afrique’s (the customer) needs for their monitoring setup:
- SD-WAN Monitoring: They needed to track the performance of their customer’s SD-WAN network in all distributed network locations/ business locations. More specifically, they also needed to monitor the performance of their telecom links.
- Monitor the SD-WAN Promise: They also needed to monitor the promise of the SD-WAN vendor and see at which point, the vendor is able to juggle links delivering low performance with links delivering high performance. In this case, The SD-WAN service needed to perform some magic to deliver the promise made by the vendor.
- Identify & Troubleshoot Performance Issues: As we mentioned earlier, telecom services in Africa often experience low bandwidth and high network congestion, which can cause severe network performance degradation. SATLX needed to help their customers detect and, more importantly, troubleshoot these network issues quickly.
- Collect Information to Share with Telecom Providers: If any performance issues arose, SATLX and Castel Afrique needed to understand if the issue was internal, or happening in the Telecom Provider’s network. If so, they needed to share the necessary information with their telecom provider to prove the issue was on their end and escalate support cases for faster troubleshooting.
Once the partnership with Obkio and SATLX began, Obkio's dedicated team collaborated closely with SATLX to facilitate the seamless deployment of Obkio's SD-WAN monitoring solution across all of Castel Afrique's distributed SD-WAN network locations. The expertise and support provided by Obkio ensured a smooth implementation process, enabling SATLX to quickly and efficiently integrate the monitoring solution into Castel Afrique's network infrastructure.
1. Deploying Monitoring Agents in All Network Locations
Utilizing Obkio's solution, SATLX and Obkio's team established monitoring agents strategically across the distributed network sites of Castel Afrique. These agents were deployed to monitor network performance, track key metrics, and collect valuable data related to the SD-WAN infrastructure.
Castel Afrique needed to monitor 66 sites, with 3-4 ISPs and multiple links. Obkio’s solution and agents seamlessly integrated with the existing network infrastructure in all 66 sites, allowing for real-time monitoring and data collection without disruption to the network operations.
2. Guided Onboarding and Support
Throughout the deployment process, Obkio's team provided extensive guidance and technical support to SATLX. They offered comprehensive training sessions to ensure SATLX personnel were well-equipped to effectively utilize the monitoring solution and leverage its full potential. Any challenges or technical issues that arose during the deployment were promptly addressed by Obkio's team, ensuring a successful and efficient implementation.
3. Live Traceroutes to Identify Network Issues
As part of their SD-WAN monitoring strategy using Obkio's solution, SATLX employed live traceroutes to measure network performance in real-time. Traceroutes provided valuable insights into the path taken by network packets and identified potential bottlenecks or latency issues along the route. By conducting live traceroutes, SATLX could continuously monitor the performance of Castel Afrique's SD-WAN network, allowing them to detect anomalies and potential issues as they occurred.
4. Scheduled Speed Tests for Monitoring Network Capacity
Alongside live traceroutes, SATLX implemented scheduled Speed Tests as part of their monitoring routine. These Speed Tests were performed daily, providing them with insights into the available bandwidth at various locations within Castel Afrique's SD-WAN network. By conducting approximately 4,000 speed tests per day, SATLX gained a comprehensive understanding of the network's capacity and performance, allowing them to proactively identify any bottlenecks or deviations from expected bandwidth levels.
5. Share Data with ISPs for Fast Troubleshooting
In addition to monitoring, SATLX utilized traceroute and speed test results to collaborate with their telecom provider for faster troubleshooting. By sharing the results of regular traceroutes and speed tests, SATLX and their telecom provider could analyze the network path, identify any congested or problematic segments, and work together to resolve the issues promptly. This collaborative approach facilitated efficient troubleshooting, reduced downtime, and ensured that network performance was optimized for Castel Afrique.
6. Performance Reports for Analysis & Troubleshooting
To effectively monitor the severity of network issues and performance metrics, SATLX utilized reports and set thresholds. Reports compiled data from the live traceroutes and speed tests, presenting a clear overview of network performance, bandwidth utilization, and any potential issues or deviations from expected values.
Thresholds were defined to establish benchmarks for acceptable performance levels, enabling SATLX to classify the severity of issues based on predefined criteria. This systematic approach ensured that network issues were prioritized and addressed promptly, reducing the impact on Castel Afrique's operations.
With the implementation of Obkio's SD-WAN monitoring solution, SATLX achieved a comprehensive setup that empowered their customer, Castel Afrique, to effectively monitor the performance of their extensive and distributed SD-WAN network.
This monitoring setup offered SATLX the ability to identify network issues, troubleshoot both internally and with their telecom provider, and most importantly, monitor the SD-WAN promise to ensure the fulfillment of expected performance levels.
With Obkio deployed in 66 network locations, SATLX and Castel Afrique have renewed their contract and are planning to deploy Obkio in even more locations! They currently have:
- 70 Agents Deployed
- 96 Subsidiary Internet links being monitored
- 321 24/7 Monitoring Sessions
- 576 Speed tests per day on 96 links
SATLX have also integrated PowerBI to provide Castel Afrique with raw Obkio data. With these stats, they have recorded substantial performance gains:
• 96 Internet links
• 37 without flow differential
• 39% of Internet links reach the promised speed
• 96 Internet links
• 53 without flow rate deviation (16 corrected)
• 53% of links have the subscribed speed
• Overall improvement of 14%
By leveraging Obkio, SATLX can pinpoint and address issues in real-time. The live traceroutes and scheduled Speed Tests provided continuous insights into network performance, allowing SATLX to detect potential bottlenecks, latency issues, or deviations from expected bandwidth levels. This proactive approach enabled them to troubleshoot and resolve problems promptly, minimizing any impact on Castel Afrique's network performance and user experience.
One of the crucial advantages of this monitoring setup was the ability to monitor the SD-WAN promise. With the comprehensive monitoring capabilities offered by Obkio, SATLX could closely monitor the performance metrics and compare them against the promised service level agreements (SLAs). This enabled them to verify if Castel Afrique was indeed receiving the performance they were guaranteed by their SD-WAN provider.
In case of any discrepancies, SATLX could promptly engage with the telecom provider, leveraging the collected data and traceroute results to address the issues and ensure that the promised performance was being delivered.
Furthermore, the monitoring setup also allowed SATLX to monitor their network performance to understand if they were receiving the available bandwidth they were paying for from their telecom provider. By continuously monitoring the bandwidth levels through scheduled Speed Tests, SATLX could evaluate if the delivered bandwidth aligned with the contracted service. In the event of any discrepancies, SATLX had concrete data to engage with the telecom provider and address any underperforming or overcharged services.
Overall, the implemented monitoring setup empowered SATLX and Castel Afrique to gain deep insights into the performance of their distributed SD-WAN network. They could ensure that the network was functioning optimally, troubleshoot efficiently, verify the adherence to promised performance levels, and evaluate the delivery of contracted bandwidth.
This level of monitoring provided SATLX and Castel Afrique with transparency, control, and the ability to maintain a high-quality network experience for their users while optimizing costs and holding their telecom provider accountable.
SD-WAN networks need dedicated SD-WAN monitoring.
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