Everything you need to know about Highlight compatibility and integration
Peter Savereux | 05/02/2021
Implementing any new tool can be stressful. You want to provide the best possible value for your customers at all times, and risks of downtime or teething problems simply don’t allow you to do that. This can mean lengthy, segmented integrations or, worse, sticking with a tool that doesn’t suit simply because it seems like the safest option.
Highlight has been built to be easy to use — harnessing monitoring and network data to help non-technical teams drive commercial outcomes. But to deliver on that promise, it also has to be simple to set up and get started. In fact, we work to directly address those pain points so that you don’t have to. Namely, we offer tailored, hands-on implementations that ensure not only a smooth transition, but also smooth delivery for your customers.
Although we can help you at every stage of this process, it’s important to have the right expectations. This article is about helping you understand what Highlight can and cannot do on a technical level, enabling you to make an informed choice. Let’s get started.
Additional reading: If you haven’t yet, check out our free ebook — Transforming the Value of Networks — to learn more about the commercial outcomes that Highlight enables you to achieve.
What types of data can Highlight collect?
Improving the value of your data is what we do, allowing for actionable insights that are often missing (or buried) by traditional monitoring tools. Given our focus on simplifying every aspect of your operations, we’ve perfected data collation in a range of different ways. However, to explain how this works, we need to split this question apart into three component questions:
- How does Highlight learn about your network?
- What real-time monitoring data can Highlight collect, and how?
- Is your data good enough?
1. How does Highlight learn about your network?
We can configure Highlight to pull data in a variety of ways. The best option will depend on your unique network needs/focuses, but we typically begin learning about networks using the following key features/approaches:
- APIs that allow service provider developers to integrate their systems with ours.
- Third-party network controllers that help us to understand the state of WiFi and SD-WAN networks.
- Spreadsheets for bulk data.
- A web dashboard for end-to-end network connectivity and configuration.
We can use any number of these processes simultaneously to make sure that we get a full spectrum of data uploaded, and then continue to update that information over time.
2. What ‘real-time’ monitoring data can we collect from your network and how?
We’re in the unique position to collate even large amounts of data from various sources and still provide actionable insights. Some of the real-time stats often at the forefront of this include:
- Stability: Is you network up or is it down?
- Load: How heavily is the service being utilised?
- Health: Are there other issues like errors that will impact performance?
We collect this data using a wide range of inclusive options, including various ease-focused methods such as:
- API integrations that pull real-time data from network controllers (again, typically WiFi and SD-WAN).
- Data collection via SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol).
- Application information using IP-FIX protocol.
3. ‘Is my data good enough?’
The question, really, is less about whether your data is good enough and more about whether you’re providing the best management data for your service level. After all, ‘good’ network data is defined by the service you’re providing and the value you’re offering clients. On a simple level, Highlight can extract stability, load, and health statistics from any device using the collection method agreed upon, and even this can help you to determine:
- Device performance
- Usage of network interfaces
- Any networking issues
For more advanced, value-driven service, you’ll want to go beyond this basic framework with further considerations such as speed of connectivity, performance tests, application visibility and even bandwidth discovery. We also support advanced statistics gathering from vendors like Cisco and Juniper to ensure that your data is placed within the most valuable context possible.
Realistically, any data is good data — the question is if it’s good enough for what you want to use it for. However, we can help you there as well by providing consulting advice on how to improve data quality and volumes. For example, it’s important for you to consider how valuable you want your managed service to be before opting for the cheapest router that might not provide useful management data. But we can work with whatever data you have and put it to optimal use driving commercial outcomes.
What are Highlight’s limitations?
We know what you’re thinking — this all sounds great so far, but what’s the catch? After all, there usually is one, especially where monitoring is concerned. Luckily, this is just another area where Highlight aims to change the narrative. Namely, our providers don’t have to struggle through the network integration challenges that seem inherent with traditional monitoring tools.
In fact, everything about Highlight has been developed to make it easier for you to access the right information. For one, we’re uniquely positioned to manage all scaling limitations from our SaaS platform, meaning that you needn’t worry about setbacks like these. What’s more, we offer a single-pane of glass, multi-tenancy interface that can be used by different customers/tenants at the same time. The system is able to understand the hierarchy between one tenant and another, even accommodating resellers with unique log-ins that enable them to see their customers, but restricts their visibility across the scope of your network. This simplifies access and communication, while also keeping users focused on the data that is relevant for them — all within a non-technical interface that even unversed providers and their customers love.
Scaling agents to match data volumes
Typically where SNMP or APIs are concerned, one of our agents can collect data from around 10,000 devices, meaning that we can pretty much meet any monitoring need.
Some limitations do set in if your data comes from Netflow/IP-FIX. Here, we typically recommend that agents only handle around 200 flow devices at a time to guarantee quality. However, we will not charge you to scale agents, and expanded services can be easily paired with existing agents for increased availability. Practically speaking, there are no limits to the data volumes we can manage, there are just optimal ways to configure that system.
It’s important to consider how agents connect to devices. Highlight supports SNMP v3, which is encrypted — making it safe for use over the public internet. However, if you need additional security, it will be important to build a private ‘managed network’. This is common for large service providers, and Highlight works well in this context. We can set up the Highlight agents as part of this management network, collecting data from your devices and securely passing the data back to our SaaS platform. However, we cannot set up and maintain this network for you, which is something to keep in mind.
Highlighting the setup process: What does getting started look like?
With immediate implementation (depending on your configuration data), and costs to suit you, getting started with Highlight needn’t be a challenge. As mentioned, our customer-facing tools and non-technical interface prove especially fundamental for helping you feel versed from day one. What’s more, we promise to eliminate all risks of downtime thanks to our ability to bulk load large estates faster than you can say ‘Highlight’!
How technically challenging is integration and setup?
Thanks to our experienced and responsive support team, integration of Highlight isn’t technically challenging at all. In fact, by getting to know precisely what you need, we can set you up in minutes to deal with data from even your most demanding customers. The key is to ensure that we’re all on the same page in terms of what we offer (e.g. the scope of the solution and how quickly you as a partner can update your device configuration) vs. what you need from us.
To make sure of that, we provide a help and support site for every partner, with comprehensive details about our services/pathways for support which, where setup is concerned, include:
- Contextual help pop-ups
- A comprehensive and easy to use help and support centre
- Phone and email support
Is Highlight an affordable option?
To provide the best value for your clients, you need to find the best value for your service. We’ve designed Highlight to be flexible, so that you can match your budget with the outcomes you are looking for. Thanks to our elimination of per-user/per-seat charges, you can guarantee you only ever pay for what you need, with the benefit of no up-front charges. What’s more, our pay-as-you-scale model means that Highlight can grow right alongside you, all without you having to worry about serious monitoring rejigs.
With that said, we do think it’s important to think about Highlight as an investment. What sets us apart from traditional monitoring is the in-built focus on commercial outcomes — helping reinvent sales strategies and customer service by strategically differentiating your operation. Highlight will help you sell more services to more customers at higher margins by providing your commercial teams with insights that they can use and understand. Looking at the ROI of Highlight is as important as the direct cost. However, this is why we use pay-as-you-scale pricing — letting you test it out within your environment and grow based on real-world results.
Getting started with Highlight is as simple as using Highlight
Data monitoring has always been a challenge, and it’s only set to become more so as the amount of big data that companies rely on grows. Service provider industry trends all point to more effective use of data and closer relationships between providers, customers and users. Increased collaboration using simple yet powerful tools is critical to achieving this outcome.
Highlight has been built to help you get your head around even the largest datasets in the simplest possible ways — and use data to create a commercial and competitive advantage. We’ve set out to reinvent network monitoring as a commercial tool, and simplifying integration and compatibility goes hand-in-hand with this outcome.
With commercially-focused outcomes at the heart of everything we do, we guarantee to help lead you towards the insight-driven solutions that you need to stand above the crowd. What’s more, we offer all that with the benefit of non-technical user interfaces, customer-facing tools, and pricing with you in mind. If that doesn’t highlight your need to start using Highlight today, then we don’t know what will. Get in touch and we can go through your specifics today.