Part 1 of the 3-part ThousandEyes in Catalyst 9000 Switches Series: What are the benefits?

The goal of ThousandEyes is to provide visibility into the digital experience across any network. These days, users rely on the network for all activities. Any downtime affects productivity and user experience. Identifying and solving problems fast is key. How many times do network administrators struggle to figure out if the cause of the problem is in the application or the network? ThousandEyes provides the proper visibility to identify issues in real-time. This includes the Enterprise, the Internet, Cloud or SaaS.

ThousandEyes can provide visibility in different ways.

  • “Employee Digital Experience”: Applications are now hosted anywhere yet network administrators still need to provide a good and consistent user experience to employees no matter where these applications are located. ThousandEyes can help by providing visibility “inside-out”, that is, from inside of the organization out to the applications. Tests running in Enterprise Agents in the campus or branch help assess the user experience when accessing the applications. For Employees working from home, the technology is slightly different by leveraging the Endpoint Agent.
  • Customer Digital Experience”: In this case, we are looking at the outside-in experience. This refers to the experience of customers of an organization when accessing the external-facing applications.  For instance, a financial institution with a Web Banking Portal that wants to assess their customers’ experience when transacting with this application.  Another example is a retail store wanting to get visibility on how the E-commerce platform serves its customers.  This is where we leverage the Cloud Agents.
  • “WAN Experience”: This experience provides visibility into a hybrid-WAN or SD-WAN. ThousandEyes can help understand what the hybrid WAN looks like.
Fig 1: Three lenses for visibility with ThousandEyes
Fig 1: Three lenses for visibility with ThousandEyes

How does this relate to Catalyst 9000 switches? Network administrators can install ThousandEyes Enterprise agents in Catalyst 9300 and Catalyst 9400 switches addressing the “Employee Digital Experience” and supporting the “WAN Experience”.

Advantages to running ThousandEyes tests from Catalyst 9000 switches

  • ThousandEyes can be deployed at the edge allowing us to monitor endpoint connectivity as close to the user as possible.
  • Existing compute resources on the Catalyst 9000 switches can be used allowing to leverage assets that are already owned. The added benefit is that there is no need to involve a separate team to setup the external resources and the application.  Moreover, this is a great option for locations with limited space and resources.
  • New and existing Catalyst 9300 and 9400 switches support ThousandEyes Enterprise Agent. It can be installed in flash without the requirement of an SSD which allows to run most of ThousandEyes tests including DNS, HTTP Server, Network, test among others (*SSD required for “Web – Page Load” test and “Web – Transaction” test)

In previous paragraphs, we discussed the three types of agents: Cloud, Enterprise, and Endpoint. Catalyst 9000 switches run the Enterprise agent. Leveraging Enterprise agents at the Campus or the Branch allows you to monitor the experience from the “Inside Out”. In other words, the experience from the employees from inside of the network accessing the outside world.

Below, we can see some examples of how to leverage the Enterprise Agent running in Catalyst 9300/9400 switches:

Fig 2: Use cases of ThousandEyes Enterprise Agent in C900 switches
Fig 2: Use cases of ThousandEyes Enterprise Agent in C900 switches
  • Test #1: from the Campus to a remote branch office allowing to examine the network path and its performance including the underlay and overlay. This is an example of “WAN Experience”
  • Test #2: from Campus to SaaS hosted applications. This is an example of “Inside Out” monitoring. Inside of the network to the outside world.
  • Test #3: from the Campus to cloud to monitor Infrastructure as a Service. As in the previous case, this is an example of “Inside Out” monitoring.

What’s next?

Now that we discussed the benefits of Thousandeyes, we are ready to discuss how to install the ThousandEyes agent. Blog #2 will cover installation using DNA Center while blog #3 will cover installation using CLI.

Follow the ThousandEyes in Catalyst 9000 Switches Series 


Lila Rousseaux

Principal Solutions Engineer

Enterprise Networks Americas Sales