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NS1: Outsmarting Outages with Pulsar Traffic Analysis Dashboards

By Ben Ball posted Wed September 27, 2023 11:53 AM


You’ve had a CDN or cloud provider go offline yet again in a key region for your user base. You’ve combed through the data, looking for the anomaly or at least a timestamp for when things started happening. It doesn’t seem to be a deploy issue, bug or any other type of interruption other than an unavailable endpoint that you didn’t catch in time. The DNS response was cached for hours, resulting in continual resolution issues for your paying customers, who have opened endless tickets and sent emails as a result of a poorly-timed interruption that just happened to occur at cache expiry.

Sound familiar?

The highly distributed nature of application delivery today presents many challenges, but none are worse than poor performance and low observability. Relying on global delivery providers, like CDN and cloud providers, is key to providing a great user experience to your paying customers around the world. Yet detecting and correcting application delivery issues can seem like a neverending crusade to fully capture and shift traffic away in time before it impacts the customer experience.

Monitoring and observability tools are critical - but alone, they’re not enough. CDN, cloud, and internet service provider outages and service issues are commonplace yet unpredictable. While many APM tools can provide information on particular hiccups, applying and reacting to that data with automated tools can still present a bit of a challenge. While observability is where many of these tools shine, taking action on observations is where NS1 can help.

NS1 Pulsar® does both. An advanced application traffic steering engine, Pulsar uses real user monitoring (RUM) performance and availability data to steer application traffic around outages and performance degradations in real time. It does so with the surgical precision of per-geography and per-ASN awareness, giving far more granular control than traditional geography only based approaches. Pulsar’s intelligent traffic steering capabilities are especially useful for organizations that want to steer between multiple cloud, CDN, or other edge providers for resilient application delivery at a global scale.

With our latest product release, Pulsar now provides even more visibility and insights into application delivery performance issues Pulsar detects as well as the traffic steering decisions Pulsar makes. With Pulsar’s Traffic Analysis Dashboards, you can now look at performance data in addition to decision data to compare and to find patterns in distribution on both subdivisional, regional or global scale.

The analysis dashboard above provides an overview of your application delivery performance. Interactive graphs show the distribution of application traffic based on Pulsar decisions side-by side with the performance inputs that went into the policy decision making. Since this information is summarized in a single pane of glass, with the ability to filter and drill down into the data, you can quickly identify and analyze application performance trends and issues.

You can find information grouped by provider and ASN that are receiving the bulk of each choice at the record level. You have the ability to filter by resource record, region or subdivision and also the network itself paired with the geography. Pivoting through each data point allows you to gain context into potential network snags or anomalies with provider choice if these are running counter to how you expect your traffic steering policies to operate when all endpoints are operating as expected.

The percentage here indicates how much of your user traffic is being driven to each provider via our engine. We have the ability to search within this data set by pulling numbers for a particular record, geography, network or all three. Now that this is within a single pane of glass, customers have an easier time with more thorough troubleshooting and investigation.

The new Decisions tab breaks down Pulsar’s choices even more, combining bar, line and global graphs to correlate where users are headed to as a result of our steering. You can utilize the same filtering capabilities to analyze traffic distribution, compare and contrast providers across multiple points of criteria and hone in on any potential spikes or unexpected shifts. Additionally, our new Insufficiencies reporting category will allow you to get visibility into potential data pipeline issues or policy configuration to enable proper policy corrections as needed. Lastly, this visibility can help with determining provider commitments, capacity planning and growing markets for your application.

While distributing your application across multiple providers can sometimes be a headache, the single source of truth and visibility to route them shouldn’t be. Simplify your approach to performance and availability based routing by automating your policy in five minutes or less, no Javascript required.

To learn more about Pulsar and how the new Pulsar Traffic Analysis Dashboards enabled customers to to detect and take action on recent major CDN and cloud outages, join us for an upcoming webcast: Outsmarting Your Next Outage with Intelligent Traffic Steering.