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Using Kentik Synthetics for Your Cloud Monitoring Needs

Stephen Condon


The final installment of our three-part series explaining the process of using continuous synthetic testing as a comprehensive cloud monitoring solution to find problems before they start.

The final post of a three-part guide to assuring performance and availability of critical cloud services across public and hybrid clouds and the internet

Kentik Synthetics adds integrated, autonomous, pervasive performance test telemetry to our market-leading network traffic analytics and observability platform, the Kentik Network Observability Platform. For modern clouds, proactive synthetic monitoring can no longer be delivered as a standalone tool. Integration and context are essential, such as the real traffic and how it flows in the context of the various cloud infrastructures.

Network observability gives you the ability to answer any question about your network quickly and easily: across any kind of network (cloud or on-prem), any kind of network element (physical, virtual, or cloud service), whether isolated at the network level or with application and business context.

Use it to plan, run, and fix any network that connects in and across public, private, and hybrid clouds.

The importance of monitoring cloud traffic for all types of cloud architectures

Whether you use a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid/multi-cloud architecture, it’s critical to monitor traffic as it travels between any cloud services and data centers within your environment. But gaining complete visibility can be difficult if you rely in part on public clouds, which don’t allow the deployment of monitoring tools directly on their network infrastructure.

This is why Kentik Synthetics provides dashboards that track vital network metrics (such as latency, packet loss, and jitter) within and between all major public clouds. Kentik Synthetics also identifies the exact path packets take within cloud environments, providing an extra layer of data and context that helps you debug issues faster.

In addition, if you need to extend Kentik Synthetics into a hybrid cloud or on-prem environment, you can customize monitoring agents so that they interface with your own data centers or internal network, allowing you to track network metrics and paths across all segments of your cloud environment.

Using active synthetic testing to identify cloud networking problems

Continuous testing using network synthetics allows you to proactively measure the uptime of critical network services and simulate network traffic. Know immediately when network incidents start to emerge so you can eliminate availability and functionality problems and poor performance across the user journey.

Continuous testing is like an insurance policy for network accessibility. Find the source of an issue faster by viewing networking failures alongside the health of your applications, cloud services, and Kubernetes environments. Quickly understand if a problem stems from a public cloud outage, slow third-party resources, or the health of your backend services and infrastructure.

Continuous testing allows you to baseline and objectively measure network SLAs. Baseline analyze trends and variance between peak and off-peak hours and plan capacity. Managing SLAs is critical today as so many companies rely on third-party cloud services to host all or parts of their applications. Monitor the performance of any third-party cloud service at frequencies you want to validate and from locations you choose at any time.

By running synthetic tests as frequently as every second — instead of every ten minutes or more, the interval legacy synthetic monitoring tools support — you can catch network performance degradations as they happen. Even subtle degradations become visible when you test continuously.

This means not only that your engineering team gains complete confidence in the quality of the network at all times, but also that they can minimize MTTR and optimize customers’ digital experience. At the same time, the business can reap higher ROI on its networking investments by reducing the level of redundancy and safe range that the network must support.

How to monitor third-party cloud and SaaS services using Kentik Synthetics

Third-party services and resources are essential to the digital experience you deliver to your end users. Kentik Synthetics can continuously test public cloud services and SaaS apps hosted outside your own environment. Kentik customers have access to a State of the Internet dashboard that constantly monitors the status and response times, from our public agents, of the most popular SaaS apps, public cloud services (AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud), as well as DNS services. Your own custom agents can be installed in your infrastructure to test from these agents to the Kentik agents or between your agents. Jitter, packet loss, and latency results are shown in a grid and color-coded to bring performance issues to your attention in seconds. With Kentik Synthetics, you can also monitor BGP and the performance of DNS, CDN, and API services.

Multi-site performance mesh test
Multi-site performance mesh test in the Kentik platform

Extend proactive monitoring to your hybrid, private cloud

Kentik makes it easy to collect data from any components of your networking architecture, including both public and private resources.

The Kentik Global Synthetic Network provides more than 200 agents for tracking popular cloud and SaaS platforms. In addition, you can deploy private agents wherever you need — such as within your own data centers — and customize them to gain hyper-focused visibility into traffic flows and network performance issues.

This means you can proactively sectionalize your monitoring routine to track traffic flows across all network components of your software stack — public clouds, private clouds, CDN networks, private data centers, and beyond — then pinpoint which component of the system is causing performance issues.

Private synthetic agents also benchmark and baseline the performance of your in-house applications, APIs, websites, and more to measure and track performance across periods (weeks, months, years) and geographies, then compare your performance to that of peers or industry standards.

Putting it all together: Troubleshooting an incident

Third-party services and resources are as essential to your cloud environment as your own apps.

When your observability tools detect a problem, the first step is determining whether the issue lies in your application or the network. But you can’t stop there.

If it’s a network problem, the next step is to sectionalize your network to assess which component is causing the issue. Does your private data center have a problem? Is it a public cloud service issue? Is the internet as whole experiencing performance problems?

“Kentik’s network observability includes synthetic testing for data center and edge, in addition to flow monitoring. It’s an entire suite for the network.”

April Carter, Senior Software Engineering Manager

The Kentik Network Observability Platform makes it easy to answer these questions by running synthetic tests on your cloud service mesh, private data centers, and third-party internet services. By viewing and verifying routes and path flows across all sections of your network architecture, you can quickly determine where each problem lies.

In turn, you can hold third-party vendors, service providers, and partners accountable when a problem on their end impacts your users. Is your payment processor’s network causing delays and cart abandonment? Is an employee unable to access email because a SaaS app is down?

Why choose Kentik Synthetics to optimize your cloud networking

Kentik has developed a unique global network footprint of intelligent, software-based agents located in over 180 cities and 90 cloud regions across Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud. This provides unprecedented visibility into every aspect of network communication: data center to data center, between data centers and public clouds, between public cloud regions, and between external SaaS, applications, and API endpoints.

By fully integrating network traffic data and synthetic analytics into a single platform, Kentik enables network and infrastructure engineering teams to autonomously and accurately measure performance and availability metrics of essential network infrastructure, applications, and services.

The real-time results are presented in a full context across the entire network infrastructure, no matter the combination of data center networks, private clouds, or public clouds.

Only Kentik:

  • Combines actual flow data and synthetic testing in a single, comprehensive solution
  • Uses real-world network conditions to automate synthetic test selection and deployment
  • Eliminates the shortcomings of legacy synthetic tools that can burden network teams with “noise” and meaningless distractions
  • Presents test results in a simple, easy-to-understand format where details can be explored, and changes made with unprecedented speed and ease
  • Offers a pricing model that allows for dramatically more frequent and comprehensive synthetic testing

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