ThousandEyes: Agents for Hire
In this article
ThousandEyes is the world's leading Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) platform. It combines Internet and WAN visibility, browser synthetics, end-user monitoring, and Internet Insights to provide a 360-degree view of your hybrid digital ecosystem across the cloud, SaaS (Software as a Service), and the Internet. This helps troubleshoot application delivery and network outages, maps your Internet performance, and gain visibility into all your applications and services across any network segment.
In this article, we're going to discuss the different types of ThousandEyes Agents in use, and how to install them.
Normal APM solutions monitor the performance inside the application environments under your control. Where ThousandEyes differs, is when your application makes an external request to any Cloud or SaaS hosted service, it runs across the Internet. A normal APM solution like AppDynamics will capture data along an application request path as it travels inside your environment and then passes the torch on to ThousandEyes to capture the rest of the request data as it travels through the Internet.
How does ThousandEyes monitor across the internet? With little pieces of magic called Agents. Agents are lightweight, Linux-based, software installations. Thousand Eyes uses three major types of agents to orchestrate your expanded application landscape: Cloud, Enterprise, and Endpoint. They act similarly in what they accomplish but differ where they are installed.
Cloud Agents are the headliner of the ThousandEyes show. They are installed in data centers globally, (193 cities in 58 countries) and gather data on everything from the device connected through gateways, VPNs, proxies and DNS servers. This includes network access layer and end-user experience data such as: Server response time, page load time, redirects, errors, and waterfall information. Cloud Agents are also capable of handling all types of routing, DNS, DNS+, web, and voice layer tests. Better still, as part of your annual subscription, ThousandEyes manages and maintains all Cloud Agents. This makes them one less item to worry about in your application environment.
Like Cloud Agents, Endpoint Agents collect real user performance data, network and application metrics. These agents are installed on end-user devices via browser extension and monitor user interactions within websites of interest as well as run scheduled tests.
On top of the active monitoring already provided by Cloud Agents, Enterprise Agents provide additional SNMP-based monitoring and discovery mapping of internal network devices.
To gain this view across our entire application path, we need to do a little leg work on our end by setting up the Agents in the environments we control. Fear not, we got you covered.
This is a bit of a trick. You don't need to do any installation of ThousandEyes Cloud Agents. They are immediately ready for use in building tests. Cloud Agents have most of the same configuration options as Enterprise Agents but cannot run web-layer tests through a proxy server because it would require proxy use for all tests run by the agent. You can still use the Enterprise or the Endpoint Agents to perform cloud-based proxy server tests.
Enterprise Agents are installed inside your owner-controlled data centers, Virtual Private Cloud's (VPCs), Virtual Networks (VNETs), branch offices, and other internal or Internet-based resources. It's installed as a Linux distribution or a prepackaged virtual appliance for use in hypervisors. There are some hardware requirements for Enterprise Agents. Rather than dump the details on you here, I'll let the official documentation provide the necessary information here.
There are a few options for Enterprise Agent installations: Virtual Appliance with .ova template format or Microsoft Hyper-V .zip file, Linux package, containers and clusters that can use either the Virtual Appliance or the The installation supports different linux flavors such as Ubuntu, RedHat, CentOS and Amazon Linux
For this walkthrough, we're going with a Linux installation using a CentOs VM running in vSphere.
- The Enterprise agent OVA file can be downloaded from your ThousandEyes instance by clicking on Cloud & Enterprise Agents.
- Then click Agent Settings.
3. Click Add New Enterprise Agent.
A new "Add New Enterprise Agent" window opens.
- Click on the Linux Package tab at the top of the window.
- These three commands will need to be run on the linux host where the Enterprise Agent will reside.
- Notice that the "Install BrowserBot check box is enabled. Leave it this way. It's required for use in the browser tests that ThousandEyes runs. It will install along with the Enterprise Agent.
- The Advanced options provide details on the flags you can use for the commands we're going to run.
Run the curl command first:
curl -Os https://downloads.thousandeyes.com/agent/install_thousandeyes.sh
Next, give the proper permissions to the executable script:
chmod +x install_thousandeyes.sh
Third, run the installation script:
sudo ./install_thousandeyes.sh -b w9vrftq43if48ehhw7kv8t4wvqm3vsl3
You'll see output while the script checks for the required OS (Operating System) settings, asks for the log directory (default is /var/log), and installs the BrowserBot. Lastly, you'll see output when the script completes the installation and starts the Enterprise Agent.
The hostname of the Linux system will be used as the name of the Enterprise Agent and the same will be reported in the list of Enterprise Agents ThousandEyes UI as shown below
Installing the Endpoint Agent requires two pieces, a small software package, and a browser extension. Like the Enterprise Agent, there is some hardware and browser requirements for the Endpoint Agent. Fear not, it's extremely lightweight. You can check the official documentation here for details.
Once logged in to ThousandEyes, Click Endpoint Agents, then expand the list, and click Agent Settings. You'll see an option to add a new agent.
Click the "Add New Endpoint Agent" button to open a new window for additional options.
- The standard Endpoint Agent is what we want to go with here. The Endpoint Agent Pulse is used for allowing outside users to access your ThousandEyes instance with an Endpoint Agent.
- The drop-down arrow for the Windows installation provides options for X64 or X86 architectures. Both files are a Windows .msi package.
- For the Mac OS download you may receive a pop-up saying that the package is unauthorized. If so, you will need to find the package location and right-click to open with the installer.app to run it successfully. If another pop-up asks you to keep the PKG file, do so.
- The "Allow anyone with the link to download" option provides a shareable link that can be used if the user requiring the Endpoint Agent does not have or want a ThousandEyes account.
Once the graphical installer is downloaded, installing it is easy. Just agree to the software license as well as the installation location (the install location can be modified). If you're installing the Endpoint Agent on Windows, make sure you install all items to your local drive, so you're covered for all browsers. The Mac OS installation will do this automatically.
Shiny and Chrome
If you're already using Google Chrome, it should open and prompt you to enable the extension. If this doesn't occur, or you install the Chrome Browser after you install the Endpoint Agent, visit the Google Chrome webstore here to add the extension.
Click the "Add to Chrome" button.
A pop-up will double-check that you want to add the extension. Review the details and click the "Add extension" button.
A notification pop-up will appear in the top right of the browser window, highlighting the new extension icon. Close and re-open your browser session. The new Endpoint Agent will now show up in the list under your Endpoint Agent settings.
Don't be afraid to Explore
Setting up the Endpoint Agent extension on Internet Explorer is similar to Chrome. After the Endpoint Agent package installation, close any browser sessions you have open. When you open Internet Explorer, a new pop-up window will prompt you to enable the extension. Click the "Enable" button. If for some reason you're not prompted, click Settings, then Manage Add-Ons, and right-click on the Start/Stop Recording and click the Enable button.
We've reached the Edge
After the Endpoint Agent package installation, close any browser sessions you have open. Upon opening a new Microsoft Edge Browser session, the new ThousandEyes Agent extension Icon should already be present.
If it isn't available, click the Settings and More button at the top right of the browser window.
Click the Extensions button from the new menu. A new Extensions browser button will open. At the top left of that there is a link to "Get extensions for Microsoft Edge".
The extension store page for the ThousandEyes browser extension will open. Click the Get button and then click the Add extension.
When you click on the ThousandEyes extension Icon, you begin recording your browser session data for tests! You can stop recording by clicking the icon again.
You can also install the Endpoint Agent via command line, but I won't cover that here. Refer to the official documentation here for details.
All the data gathered from these Agents are used to build a visual representation of the network path from user to service. Now, when a complaint comes in about a third-party service being slow, connections dropping, or poor audio and video quality, there is data present in ThousandEyes that can be used to determine whether the issue lies in the network path to the service or the service itself. This decreases the time to isolate root cause and provides evidence for use in discussion with the network or third-party service provider.
Start your ThousandEyes journey by requesting a demo.