Enterprises are being offered a new product that can monitor MPLS traffic 'in the cloud', allowing them, to keep a direct eye on the levels of service being delivered by WAN providers.

Packet Design's MPLS WAN Explorer will be able to assess changes in what the company calls "reachability"- that is, the ability of IP traffic to move between any two sites at a given time) and verify that the service provider has deployed the MPLS VPN routing architecture according to enterprise policy.

Althought there have been products that will monitor MPLS traffic within an enterprises, (NetScout's NGenius has an MPLS monitoring option for example) this is the first time that managers have been able to reach into their service providers cloud said Alex Henthorn-Iwane, VP of marketing at packet Design.

"This is the first product that lets customers monitor the Layer 3 routing of their WANs that run across service provider MPLS VPNs. There isn't any other product that does this"

He said that existing products would monitor application traffic flowing in and out of an enterprise site, but were not able to provide any insight as to whether " routing issues either at a site or in the VPN are the cause of an application problem, whether a primary VPN has failed or whether administrative errors at the SP have inadvertently mixed two enterprise VPNs together and have compromised their privacy."

He added that the product would offer an improvement on service providers' own stats. "The sort of stats that MPLS VPN providers typically offer are: latency from edge to edge within their network, and uptime availability of links between the SP and customer sites. However, they typically don't offer any stats on whether the site-to-site IP routing is operating correctly or not," he said.

All enterprises will have SLAs in place with their service providers but often there's no accurate way of assessing their effectiveness., MPLS WAN Explorer would be able to offer accurate information on a service provider's performance. "Given the lack of service provider SLA's or stats on the proper Layer 3 routing operation of a MPLS VPN WAN, this product helps enterprise managers ensure the proper operation of their network including the portion outsourced to the VPN, and by extension ensure that service providers are fully meeting their SLAs," said Henthorn-Iwane.