How To Make A Smarter Last-Mile Management Service

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Today we introduced Cato Intelligent Last-Mile Management (ILMM), a new service that offloads the burden of monitoring and managing the lines connecting your sites to Cato PoPs from around the globe. Simplifying last-mile management is an enormous step forward in simplifying global SD-WAN deployments. Here’s why.

The Last-Mile: SD-WAN’s Achilles Heel

Getting the last-mile right has been challenging for global SD-WANs. With MPLS, the provider assumed the responsibility of the last mile management. When backhoes cut a wiring duct, squirrels chewed through wires, or router updates blew up the network, the MPLS provider was charged with fixing the problem. Carriers might charge a bundle for MPLS, take forever to close tickets, and be frustrating to work with but at least you knew they were responsible for keeping last-miles connected.

SD-WAN has a lot going for it, of course, but the one issue that SD-WAN appliance vendors often gloss over is the management of the last mile. With SD-WAN based on Internet connectivity, it’s up to you and your team to monitor all of the last-mile links around the globe, identify problems, and engage with local ISPs. To which, you need to deploy the necessary monitoring tools (unless, of course, you’re already a Cato customer in which case our system already has you covered). You’ll also need to learn the local language, procedures, and culture for each ISP — what a pain.

Last Mile and ISP
Last-mile problems occur in the line to the ISP and the connection to the ISP’s peers

Monitoring Services Can’t Solve The Problem

Outsourcing last mile monitoring has been a partial solution. The carrier and providers who will monitor and manage your last miles are often limited to the capabilities of the edge device, namely the router. As such, they can use ICMP to detect link outages, but that’s about it. There’s very little understanding of link characteristics when something starts to go wrong but is still operational. Seasonal changes, like the upcoming Black Friday for retailers, are not factored into their understanding of last mile performance. Visibility is also limited, missing outages in an ISP’s upstream connectivity.

Cato ILMM: Putting Intelligence into LMM

We thought we could do better, so we created a smarter LMM. Cato ILMM, detect blackouts AND brownouts — even if those outages and slowdowns occur beyond your site’s last-mile.

To do this we continuously profile each last-mile, establishing unique dynamic baselines for critical services. Knowing what’s normal lets us detect brownouts before they become blackouts and blackouts before your users notice them. We can isolate outages down to the specific service and location to shorten resolution times. Let’s break that apart of a second:

  • Continuous Last-Mile Profiling leverages our vast data warehouse capabilities to create a dynamic model of last-mile performance. During the onboarding process, we capture a week-long baseline of the packet loss, latency, jitter metrics for every monitored service across every managed link. This last-mile profile establishes a highly accurate baseline for defining and detecting brownouts. We continue to evolve this baseline over time to capture seasonal and other network fluctuations.
  • Infrastructure Service Monitoring identifies outages in the underlying services required to run the most common cloud applications not just the physical last mile. Cato ILMM measures link connectivity and service-specific uptime using Ping, DNS, HTTP, and Traceroute. Additional services can be monitored as well.
  • Pinpoint Identification eliminates finger pointing and reduces time to resolve. Cato monitors the complete customer connection from the location, through the ISP’s premises, to Cato dedicated test server and websites on the public Internet. Testing is done both within the Cato tunnel and outside of the Cato tunnel. As such, Cato can isolate problems down to Cato, the ISP, or the ISP’s peers.
Cato NOC
Cato manages the entire last mile – from the customer premises to Cato’s PoP

Combining ILMM with what we’re already doing, monitoring the Cato Cloud network connecting our PoPs (“the middle mile”), Cato delivers end-to-end management of a company’s SD-WAN infrastructure.

Last-Mile Management That Meets IT’s Agility Requirements

For too long, managed network services forced IT to pay for the high costs of service management while suffering the delays and headaches of opening trouble tickets and relying on the carrier to fulfill move, add, or change (MAC) requests.

Cato changes that paradigm by bringing self-service management of the cloud to network services. With self-service, customers have full control over their SD-WAN, making any MACs themselves. Both the enterprise and Cato continuously monitor the SD-WAN instance. Cato, though, is solely responsible for managing the underlying infrastructure shared among all of its customers.

Cato ILMM complements this model with last-mile management. Companies continue to retain control over their MACs but now rely on Cato or its partners to monitor and manage their last-mile services. Combining the two approaches gives enterprises the best of both worlds — unparalleled agility and no headaches.

To learn more about Cato ILMM check out this whitepaper.


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