Unintended Benefits of a DDI Overlay

The benefit of many software overlay solutions is that you can actually use them as an early warning system, a canary in the coal mine for your networks.

Mar 17th, 2022

In IT we think a lot about unintended consequences of various designs and implementations, trying to suss out any possible situation that could go wrong before our users report it. What about the unintended benefits, though? Every week I hear a story about how Micetro was the "canary in the coal mine" for other network issues, so I thought it would be helpful to share some of them here.

Micetro is a software overlay orchestration solution. This means that it is constantly communicating with other devices and solutions on your network such as DNS servers, DHCP servers, and domain controllers. Not to toot our own horn, but something we're often congratulated on is how responsive our GUI and APIs are. Last week during an interview with an MSP customer, they shared they were shocked at how fast our API responses were as compared to their previous DDI solution. Calls that used to take 20-30 seconds per object with that solution were taking only 1 or 2 seconds with Micetro. So, if something is moving really slow, it's very possible there's a root cause issue on the network.

The case of the slow DNS server

When you click on a zone to investigate the DNS records contained within that zone, does it take a while for it to populate? Micetro does a check with the preferred DNS server that contains that zone before it shows you the records to make sure you're seeing the most up-to-date information. So, if that takes a while to populate it's possible there's an issue with that server. Try checking a zone that you know is contained on a different server or service to see if the suspect DNS server is actually the culprit.

Signal to check the DNS server

If the issues seems to be occurring for all of your zones, maybe it's an L2/L3 device. Check for errors in the Micetro console to see if routers are reachable during Discovery.

Router Unreachable

The case of the frozen DHCP service

Perhaps your CEO keeps firing up her laptop only to find she can't get on the network because she doesn't have an IP address, but there should be plenty! Have you ever wondered why you seem to keep running out of IP addresses in your DHCP scopes? You're probably managing a lot and you can't be expected to check DHCP scopes every hour. Now of course, you can use Micetro to warn you about over-utilization of scopes, but I'm talking about IP addresses that seem to be totally missing.

It's pretty common when we install Proof of Concept implementations for our new customers to find literally thousands of discrepancies and IP addresses that can be reclaimed. One of our customers was able to find a server which had an unresponsive DHCP service. So, it looked like everything was fine, the server was up and Microsoft reported that the service was "running." However, when the initial IP discovery was performed with Micetro, they were able to easily track down where these "orphaned" IP leases had come from and why nothing was being refreshed or renewed.

The case of the slow DHCP and/or DNS replication

Setting up redundancy for common services like DHCP and DNS is key to network uptime. If DNS goes down, everything goes down. However, with replication comes other possible issues. In fact, with Microsoft DHCP, it's even possible to have scope databases fall out of sync with registries, whether or not you have redundancy configured.  Everything in Micetro is real-time or at least near-real time depending on your configuration settings. Therefore, if something is out of sync in your underlying services, Micetro will detect and notify you right away.

Find and manage DHCP scope reconciling

Helpful error messaging for better troubleshooting

Micetro never says "it must be the network." Because it has a great view into your network devices and services on-premises and in the cloud, it has a unique advantage to letting you know about the root issues which are popping up in your network. If you're interested in finding out what might be lurking on your network, contact us for a no risk proof-of-concept or a personalized demo any time! That's the beauty of a software solution overlay.