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How Automation Helps Ensure VPNs Are Ready for Remote Work

March 12, 2020

As if enterprise network teams didn’t already have enough on their plate, now the coronavirus pandemic has thrown them a curveball that’s coming in hard and fast, seemingly out of left field. With more companies making plans to have employees work from home, corporate networks are suddenly tasked with supporting an overnight influx of thousands of additional telecommuters.

There are a lot of challenges here, but first and foremost is: Will corporate VPNs be able to handle all these remote workers?

“Will corporate VPNs be able to handle thousands of suddenly telecommuting workers?”

One multinational Fortune 100 financial services corporation wanted to run stress tests over the weekend to model what kind of demand it could expect in the event of a company-wide work-from-home policy. Initially the network team planned to use one of its existing monitoring tools but could get it to poll only every 30 minutes. But the company was looking for far more granularity — like every 2 minutes.

NetBrain delivers same-day custom solution

The company reached out to NetBrain to explore developing a Qapp — a customizable program that pulls data from network devices and provides contextual insights from the results — to give them what they needed.

And the company’s network team was really under the gun. They had to be be prepared at a moment’s notice — we’ve all seen how fast things are moving with this pandemic — to have potentially around 200,000 employees suddenly working remotely over its VPNs. They need an automated solution now.

A call was scheduled on Friday, everyone jumped on a video conference, and one of NetBrain’s network engineers had the Qapp written and delivered to the company by the end of the day.

“The corporate network team was facing potentially 200,000 employees suddenly working remotely over its VPNs. NetBrain developed an automated solution by the end of the day.”

They ran the main test Sunday morning, reporting back that “everything worked as expected. We captured all the data and it aligns with the other tools we used during the test. We ended up finding one circuit that was running a little hot, but overall everything was good.”

NetBrain’s flexible Adaptive Automation platform — based on its deep data model that builds a “digital twin” of the network — enables IT teams (or in this case, NetBrain’s Services team engineers) to automate literally anything that can be done manually.

How One Fortune 100 Company Tested Its VPNs for Remote Work Due to Coronavirus

Under the hood: What the Qapp does

The goal of the custom Qapp is to provide two functions:

  1. First, to verify that every VPN tunnel is up and healthy
  2. Second, measure each tunnel’s bandwidth utilization

The Qapp monitors all interfaces on Cisco and Juniper devices using the show interfaces command on IOS and show interfaces extensive command on Junos. Each interface gets highlighted on a Dynamic Map with its status as well as its utilization % over a 2-minute time frame.  To provide this utilization % rate, the Qapp converts the bandwidth units obtained and performs a calculation based on the tunnel’s total bandwidth capacity.

 

Next steps

Want to know more about the drag-and-drop simplicity of Qapps?
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