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WAN: How to choose an MPLS provider

Application path monitoring

Most suppliers can see when a link is down. Some can see when it's over-utilised. However, when you have an application issue, what you really need is to be able to see which application, user or device is the root cause of the problem, and then follow the path of the application across the network.

You need to be able to get right to the heart of the problem, even when it is not with the network. The best MPLS providers should help you do this. 

What does good look like?

Here's an example of the sort monitoring portal you might seek:

 

Is it sufficient to have a monitoring portal?

Well no,  not really.  You need more.

Since the only reason you have a WAN is to help deliver applications to your users,  it's vital that these applications perform well.   However, finding the cause of a poorly-performing application can be extremely difficult.  It can be very difficult to see what's going on within a mass of performance data.   

How do you achieve it? 

A critical feature of an MPLS WAN is that your provider can help you see the wood for the trees using tools such as Critical Path Monitoring.  Here's an example of ours:

So,  with this in mind,  here are some questions you might ask:

  • Do you provide monitoring of the MPLS network?
  • Do you provide proactive monitoring?
    • What proportion of issues do you expect to flag proactively (aim for 95%)
  • Do you support the entire application path or just the devices you've sold?
    • Can you add applications, databases, servers and LAN for example?
  • How do you work with other resolver groups?
    • Do you triage problems that arise?
    • Can you work with other resolver groups to solve problems that may not be caused by the WAN
    • Do you remain accountable back to the customer while working with such resolver groups?
  • Do you provide a detailed customer monitoring portal?
    • Does it include the entire application path? (as above)
    • Does it show tickets raised?
    • Does it allow Critical Path Monitoring, with a simplified view of entire application stacks?
  • Do you provide advanced reporting?