In 2020, Cisco acquired the cloud intelligence company ThousandEyes, Inc., which enables businesses to have a comprehensive view of their IT ecosystems. With this acquisition, Cisco customers are able to see both their internal and external services.
I recently had the pleasure of having a virtual fireside chat with two knowledgeable ThousandEyes experts: James Lake, Vice President of the Americas, and Bill Donoghue, Leader of Systems Engineering. They kindly offered to answer some questions I frequently hear from customers about ThousandEyes.
Q: ThousandEyes has been a successful acquisition for Cisco. To what do you attribute that success?
James: Great question, Cliff, and we could probably spend a couple of hours on that. At a high level, though, there are a couple of factors. First and foremost, it’s the strength and relevance of the technology. As we see customers invest in things like hybrid work, cloud/SaaS, and SDWAN, and even improving their own customers’ digital experience, they become more and more dependent on networks and environments they don’t own or control. And that is ThousandEyes’ sweet spot — delivering greater visibility into environments customers don’t own or control.
Bill: I completely agree, James. We can monitor experiences — applications, services, users — and understand how those experiences are being delivered over whatever network they are flowing across, whether that’s the customer’s network, a cloud or SaaS provider, or even the internet. To top it off, we correlate that experience directly with the network delivery, allowing customers not only to see if it’s an application or network problem, but when there is a network problem, identify exactly where it’s coming from, regardless of whose network it is. So really, we are so market relevant because the use cases where we are really strong — hybrid work, cloud/SaaS, network modernization, and customer DX — are things that most customers are dealing with today.
James: Other reasons include the natural synergy we have with other Cisco technologies, the simplicity and time to value of the solution, and we certainly can’t forget to mention culture. We all approach what we do with a relentless focus on customer success. A great product that is easy to deploy and use makes that easier to do, but our whole team is focused on helping Cisco make our customers successful and deliver exceptional value.
Q: You mentioned Cisco synergy. I’ve seen ThousandEyes in a variety of use cases across Cisco. As we drive forward in this digitally connected world, how do you see ThousandEyes interlocking with solutions across the Cisco portfolio to provide true business outcomes to customers?
James: Well, this is one of the reasons many of us were so excited about being acquired by Cisco. It’s not just that we integrate with other Cisco solutions; we are coming up with unique and innovative ways of delivering more value. We started by prioritizing making it easier for our customers to deploy ThousandEyes and gain greater visibility leveraging their current infrastructure. We did this by embedding our agent technology with Cisco routing, switching, and SDWAN platforms, making it very simple, easy, and cost-effective to achieve visibility with ThousandEyes. We’ve also done some great things by providing visibility into collaboration services like WebEx, and there’s excellent synergy and integration with AppDynamics that drive our Full Stack Observability offering. The exciting part is that this is just the beginning!
Q: That’s great! I’ve heard it stated that you empower customers to thrive in an internet-centric world. Can you tell us how you view your pulse on the health of the internet? I, for one, always receive information from you on when and why my email doesn’t work.
James: You’ve heard me say, “We are the authority on the internet.” Basically, we can use our enormous data set — billions of metrics per day — to quickly surface issues or problems with ISPs or SaaS applications that are not isolated to just one customer. This allows customers, and us, to immediately know when there are problems on the internet that will interfere with applications or services we rely on. What else, Bill?
Bill: Well, I think it’s important to understand what you would do with this information. So as James said, not only will we tell you if there is a problem with a SaaS application, but also what regions of the world are being impacted. Similarly, for ISPs, if there is a network issue on the internet, we will show what target networks and services are affected, as well as what regions are impacted. Some folks may say, “Well, so what? I can’t do anything to fix those problems.” This might be true, but they quickly realize that the amount of time and resources saved by knowing this right up front is tremendous. They no longer spend hours trying to troubleshoot a problem, only to find out they can’t fix it because the issue is with someone else. As a result, they can also be much more proactive with their customers and employees when service disruptions that may be outside their control occur. We frequently detect problems hours before vendors post them to their status pages — even before users start complaining. Our capability here is based on actual data, not just complaints.
Q: As I’m listening to you guys, it seems that ThousandEyes’ reach is expansive in terms of who will benefit from it. You talk about network path visibly that an engineer might care about, as well as higher level outage information from a potential strategic partner that an executive might want to know. So who do you see as ThousandEyes’ target consumer?
James: Of course, it’s everyone! I even use it at home when my internet isn’t working.
Bill: You wouldn’t be the first person, James. I think you’re right, though, Cliff. Not only is ThousandEyes something that has tremendous value for engineering or specialist teams, but also for IT operations. Again, it’s great at identifying the fault domain, so it’s very helpful for operations in that sense. Knowing where the problem is provides the ability to avoid the blame game and “war room” calls with dozens of people. Even at higher levels of an organization, the data we collect can provide valuable insight into a company’s SLAs with its customers, partners, and vendors so they can be held accountable. It’s also important to point out that ThousandEyes isn’t just useful to network teams, app teams, and operations. We see security teams, incident management, collaboration services, end-user computing, site reliability, vendor management, and even marketing teams finding value in the data and insight it can provide.
Q: This has been great, guys. I really appreciate it. What’s next for you and the ThousandEyes team?
James: Thank you, Cliff. We love and appreciate the partnership! I believe the future is very bright for us. We are growing, and we’re investing. Our product team is doing amazing things, not only innovating with different Cisco technologies, but also improving the overall quality of the data we collect. We are doing some amazing work in developing intelligence to help customers make predictive networking decisions based on the data we are collecting. It’s really exciting. Overall, I believe we can show up in new ways for our customers. We can help them understand the unique challenges presented in how IT is evolving and ultimately help them be more efficient and effective in servicing their customers and employees.
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