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    May 4, 2023

    Streamlining Troubleshooting for Work-from-Home Users: Tips for Effective Active Monitoring

    It may feel like ancient history, but it was only a few years ago that, in response to the pandemic, organizations made a wholesale shift to support hybrid work models—and did so literally overnight, in many cases.

    While some time has passed, this is a shift to which many IT organizations are still struggling to fully adapt.

    Hybrid work models of today typically feature a mix of work arrangements, such as occasional work days in corporate offices, home offices, shared workspaces, satellite offices, and so on.

    For IT teams, it is often work-from-home models that can be particularly vexing, and have a negative impact on staff efficiency and productivity.

    Challenges

    The key challenge is that when a user works from home, it brings Wi-Fi, home networks, and external ISPs into the picture. Clearly, IT teams don’t “own” these services, and many teams fundamentally lack any visibility into these different areas.

    As a result, when end users encounter issues, it can be difficult and time consuming to help with troubleshooting. IT staff may ultimately have to dedicate the time and effort to remotely connect to the end-user device to do diagnostics. Teams may have to spend inordinate amounts of time to prove the “innocence” of their internal networks, only to find out the issue stems from an outage at a third party, such as a last-mile ISP or carrier.

    Another complicating factor is home network variability. A user working on a home Wi-Fi may experience very different levels of performance depending on whether they’re on the back deck, in the kitchen, or in their office, and whether they’re alone in the house or an entire family is home and streaming videos and playing games on their own devices.

    Tips for Success

    To contend with today’s hybrid work realities, it is essential to implement active monitoring from the end-user perspective. For IT teams looking to establish effective active testing in order to support work-from-home users, here are a few key suggestions:

    • Establish a strong representative sample. In implementing active monitoring, it is important to establish an effective sampling of the different types of personnel that make up the user community. For example, the needs and environments of a developer will vary substantially from those of a marketing executive. Other factors such as regions and applications can also play significant roles. Toward that end, teams should employ sampling approaches that address these different use cases and user types. Teams must also look at the full network path of end users, including office Wi-Fis, last-mile ISPs, backbone providers, and app provider environments, whether those are in an internal data center or external cloud provider.
    • Regional proxies for outside-in monitoring. Generally, we recommend taking an inside-out approach, that is, starting with testing from the end-user perspective, and taking the same network paths that users rely upon. When that’s not possible, another alternative is to take an outside-in approach. This entails deploying agents on regional proxies, and doing active testing on the locations and services that matter to the business.
    • ISP coverage. Teams need to take a “trust but verify” approach to third-party networks and services. They must ensure that active testing traverses networks that users rely upon, including residential ISPs from home environments. It is also important for IT teams to establish the visibility needed to independently and objectively track and report on the SLA compliance of third-party ISPs that serve their office environments.

    Watch Our Presentation to Learn More

    To learn more, be sure to watch our Small Bytes presentation, How do I efficiently troubleshoot issues with end users that work from home? This session looks at the persistent challenges associated with troubleshooting issues for work-from-home users, and it shows how teams can employ AppNeta to boost visibility and staff efficiency.

    Alec Pinkham

    Alec is a Product Marketing Manager for the AppNeta solution at Broadcom. He spent seven years with AppNeta in the Application and Network Performance Monitoring space before joining Broadcom. Prior to AppNeta his background is in software product management in HMI/SCADA solutions for industrial automation as well as...

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