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Cisco adds automated testing to ThousandEyes

Cisco added automated testing for video conferences and a troubleshooting dashboard to the ThousandEyes internet intelligence platform.

Cisco released two updates to its ThousandEyes internet intelligence platform to improve video conference connection quality and simplify troubleshooting.

Launched this week, Automated Session Testing and the Agent View dashboard help IT teams proactively manage day-to-day problems that affect applications running on top of ever more complex networking environments, according to Cisco.

Automated Session Testing is a synthetic monitoring tool for infrastructure devices supporting Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings. Network managers configure automatic tests of the network paths used by the devices with a ThousandEyes endpoint agent. IT professionals can specify the frequency of tests and the protocols used, such as TCP or ICMP.

ThousandEyes displays gathered testing information as a flow chart of network hops. The chart identifies jitter, packet loss or other issues in the network path.

Automated Session Testing also identifies network nodes common to multiple users in the same video conference. That information can help IT professionals determine where to troubleshoot problems affecting many people.

Cisco plans to add Automated Session Testing support for more communication apps. Future updates will support popular call center apps like Genesys and Amazon Connect.

Synthetic testing is not a new concept. Kentik and Viavi are two synthetic testing vendors likely to compete with the updated ThousandEyes product, IDC analyst Mark Leary said.

The Agent View dashboard correlates data from multiple sources about one user.
The Agent View dashboard correlates user data from multiple sources.

The Agent View dashboard aggregates network health data for each person on the network. The data includes browser sessions, scheduled tests, local networks and device-level metrics. Correlating all the data and displaying it side by side helps IT professionals spot degradation trends in network performance quickly, Cisco said.

The new tools are available now at no extra cost to ThousandEyes subscribers.

The customer trend behind the latest announcements is the same that drove Cisco to unveil plans for an AI-powered SaaS application that predicts network problems based on abnormalities discovered in traffic patterns. Companies want tools that help IT spot potential network problems before affecting employees.

Automated Session Testing displays video conference attendees' network paths as flowcharts.
Automated Session Testing displays video conference attendees' network paths as flowcharts.

The SaaS analytics engine represents a step toward technology that can resolve problems itself, while the latest releases help network managers become more proactive in fixing potential issues, Leary said.

"If we're to deliver networks that are dynamic, that can serve the digital age better, [they need] less operator involvement, less manual intervention with networks, less manual diagnostics, less problem resolution [and more problem avoidance]," Leary said.

Madelaine Millar is a news writer covering network technology at TechTarget. She has previously written about science and technology for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Khoury College of Computer Sciences, as well as covering community news for Boston Globe Media.

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