Pexip is a leading global provider of video-conferencing solutions, delivering reliable and easy-to-administer services for large enterprises with complex collaboration needs. To maintain reliability, maximize cost-effectiveness and deliver the best user experience, Pexip uses Kentik to understand, in detail, all aspects of the performance of its global network, across public clouds, the internet and on-premises infrastructures.
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic sent individuals and organizations scrambling to adopt video conferencing, the founders and leaders of Pexip knew how to help large enterprises make remote communications both effective and enriching. The company, based in Oslo, Norway, was created in 2019 by the merger of Pexip, which was started in 2012 to specialize in video infrastructure, and Videxio, which was founded in 2011 to provide cloud video services.
The company’s mission is to break down the barriers that can make enterprise video conferencing expensive, difficult to manage and hard to scale. Today, Pexip serves customers in more than 190 countries across a broad range of industries, including government, healthcare, financial services, education, retail, manufacturing, energy and nonprofits.
Employing its innovative Infinity software, Pexip gives customers the option to host video conferences on-premises or through the cloud, via Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. In addition, it offers the Pexip Service, which provides a range of video and calling services, as well as interoperability with complementary capabilities such as Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts. Proprietary technology gives Pexip customers unmatched features in control, security and customization.
To deliver its services with the high level of quality and reliability its customers have come to expect, Pexip employs a global web of network and telecommunications connections. Ensuring the health of all those connections is the responsibility of an IT team headed by Thomas Guggenbuhl, infrastructure engineer.
“Technology and workplace habits have come a long way over the years, but the challenge of connecting devices and platforms remains,” Guggenbuhl says. “In fact, that challenge is more complex than ever. As companies have adopted video conferencing as a standard practice, expectations of capabilities and reliability have increased dramatically.”
For Pexip, that means network management is a more demanding — and important — job than ever.
As traffic on Pexip’s far-flung network infrastructure rose dramatically during 2019 and 2020, the IT team found its monitoring capabilities were not keeping pace. Their original tool for flow monitoring was incomplete and outdated, Guggenbuhl says, so the team tried to build its own solution based on open-source software. “But the cost in terms of employees’ time was too high, both to develop and maintain it.”
Pexip next tried ElastiFlow, a free solution working on an Elasticsearch cluster. But it became necessary to upgrade to the paid edition, Guggenbuhl notes, and the solution did not support the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). “This pushed us to look for a different solution.”
That search included a look at native GCP tools, as well as Splunk and ElastiFlow. “But then our technical account manager at GCP told us about Kentik. He said a number of his customers use Kentik to monitor their network flows.”
A detailed examination of Kentik’s capabilities showed it was a perfect fit for Pexip. “Kentik is the only solution that is compatible right out of the box with GCP and Azure, and has the ability to monitor on-premises flows,” Guggenbuhl notes. “That’s exactly what we need, because our ability to offer on-prem and cloud solutions to our customers is a major differentiator for us.” As a SaaS-based solution, Kentik also required minimal support in contrast to open source.
The Pexip IT team uses the Kentik Network Observability Cloud to monitor all its critical network connections to ensure optimal performance, security, cost-effectiveness and manageability.
“We use Kentik to monitor the usage of our links and how traffic from our customers reaches us,” Guggenbuhl says. “This helps us in many ways — ensuring that there will always be enough bandwidth to support an excellent customer experience; planning for expansion to meet future needs; and helping optimize costs by understanding in detail the sources, destinations and links used for each customer.”
A critical need filled by Kentik is troubleshooting potential problems. “Anytime there is an incident — a broken link, perhaps, or a possible security breach — we use Kentik to analyze what our monitoring systems are telling us, to see what or who is the source of the issue,” Guggenbuhl notes.
Kentik assists in this process in two very valuable ways, he adds. First, the level of detail presented is far greater than what is gained from traditional flow-monitoring tools. That gives Pexip a much clearer picture of the nature of the issue and how to address it. Second, Kentik’s advanced visualization capabilities greatly simplify its presentation of information and analysis, enabling network managers to resolve an issue much more quickly.
“Kentik has cut in half the time it takes for us to analyze and resolve an issue,” Guggenbuhl says.
The detailed information from Kentik also assists in capacity planning and cost optimization. “Kentik has revealed patterns in network flow that we hadn’t seen before, and this has allowed us to make changes that not only improve performance but also control costs for both us and our customers.”
Kentik also has been employed to help Pexip deliver new, innovative services to its customers. An example is Direct Peering, a private connection between a customer and the Pexip Service that improves the performance, consistency and security of video calls. Kentik’s ability to analyze traffic flows in great detail allows Pexip to show customers exactly how they will benefit from peering. In similar fashion, Kentik guides Pexip in establishing the peering relationships that optimize costs for itself.
And Pexip’s ability to support customers both on-premises and in the cloud is bolstered by Kentik Cloud, which shows a unified, end-to-end view of traffic to, from, and across public clouds, the internet and on-premises infrastructures. “Kentik is a single, unified tool to plan, manage, and troubleshoot a network infrastructure, even one as complex as ours,” Guggenbuhl notes.
Guggenbuhl points out the aspects of Kentik he values most — its extensive capabilities and ease of use. “Kentik is a very robust platform that gives us a level of detail and analysis available nowhere else. Even more valuable, for us, is its ability to monitor both on-premise and cloud deployments. At the same time, Kentik is so easy to use. The initial setup is quick and straightforward, and day-to-day use is equally simple. Building queries is extremely intuitive, and the visualization provided is great for use in NOCs (network operations centers).”
Best of all, he concludes, is how little time it requires of team members who are always hard-pressed for time. “The human cost of using Kentik is very low, and that’s a great advantage for us. We definitely save on people-time.”