Company Accelerates Application Performance Troubleshooting Customer Challenge


Headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, Boxwood Technology provides job boards and other online career center services for associations. The company is endorsed by the American Society of Association Executives and is a charter member of the International Association of Employment Websites. 

Boxwood employees in two locations depending on business applications housed in a collocation facility, including a ticketing system, customer databases, Microsoft® SharePoint, accounting software, and an IT logging tool. Previously, if users reported slow application performance, Boxwood’s systems administrators used the “show IP NBAR” command to investigate. “But the command returned limited information about only a few protocols, and interpreting the data was time-consuming,” says William Bordeau, systems administrator for Boxwood Technology. “To accelerate troubleshooting and provide a good user experience, we wanted deeper insight into end-to-end application performance and an easy-to-use graphical user interface.” Complicating the challenge, Boxwood was preparing to replace a traditional phone system with an all-IP voice system. “We knew we needed the ability to visualize voice traffic from end-to-end because voice quality affects customer satisfaction when they call for sales or support,” Bordeau says. The existing, third-party NetFlow traffic analyzer would not work for voice traffic monitoring, because it relied on traceroute, which only shows traffic between routers, not between switches. This meant that a portion of the traffic flow for interoffice calls, which goes through the Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) cloud, would be hidden. To see the end-to-end flow, Boxwood needed a router that supported Performance Monitoring technology that discovers switches as well as routers. Cisco® Performance Monitoring technology follows flows hop-by-hop, collecting statistics across the flow path. It leverages another Performance Monitoring technology, which collects diagnostic data including packet loss, jitter, hop-by-hop latency, and response time. Ease-of-use was critical. “Our staff is busy and needs a simple tool that displays actionable information without requiring them to jump through hoops,” Bordeau says. “We wanted an easy-to-use visualization tool that would require less detective work.”