What is an Enterprise Agent?

Last updated: Fri Jan 18 13:31:48 GMT 2019

Our ThousandEyes platform uses Agents to run tests against targets configured for measurement.  An Agent is a Linux server running custom ThousandEyes software, which checks in with an agent collector to obtain instructions from the ThousandEyes platform.  Generally speaking, these are lightweight machines, which are tasked solely with acting as ThousandEyes Agents.  Within the Agent ecosystem, we have two main types of agent: Cloud Agents and Enterprise Agents.

Cloud Agents

Cloud Agents are servers deployed globally in tier 2 or tier 3 data centers, managed and maintained by the ThousandEyes operations team.  These servers are available for the use of our customers on a unit consumption basis, and are shared by all customers.  These servers are capable of running all test types available in the ThousandEyes platform.

Enterprise Agents

An Enterprise Agent is an endpoint that is used to test targets from inside your network, or from infrastructure within your control. Enterprise Agents can be easily installed on your own network, in data centers and branch offices, using a lightweight virtualized system called a Virtual Appliance, or using a Linux package installed on a supported Linux distribution.  Enterprise Agents collect data for the exclusive use of your account, and are not shared with other organizations.

Virtual Appliance

The Virtual Appliance is a lightweight all-in-one package, intended for customers to rapidly deploy into a hypervisor platform.  The Virtual Appliance contains a web-based management console, which allows customers to configure network, proxy and other settings specific to this Virtual Appliance.  One of the biggest benefits of the Virtual Appliance is that it is manageable by someone with little-to-no Linux expertise.

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Installation of a Virtual Appliance requires that a hypervisor be available.  Check out this article for suggestions on enabling an appropriate hypervisor.

The Virtual Appliance runs Ubuntu Linux server 16.04, and keeps itself up to date by downloading and applying security updates automatically.  It is available in two different distribution options; an industry standard .ova template format, and a Microsoft Hyper-V .zip file.  Both versions can be downloaded from our Add > New Agent page.  In addition, customers can preconfigure virtual appliances for their exclusive use.  This binds the customer's account token to the agent, such that it cannot be modified - and requires less configuration during enterprise agent deployment.

Linux package

The Linux package installation will run with any compatible version of Linux.  Check the ThousandEyes Knowledge Base article entitled "Supported agent operating systems" for the current list of Linux distributions which support the Enterprise Agent Linux package.  This package is available to be installed on the host, and runs as a service, once configured.  When installing via the Linux package approach, the only software which is kept up to date is the software required by the agent code.

Installation instructions for installing the Agent using the Linux package method can be found here.

Clusters

Enterprise Agents can be grouped into Agent clusters.  Clusters allow you to add capacity as needed to a single logical Agent.  When a test is assigned to the cluster, the cluster software assigns the test to the Enterprise Agent in the cluster that has the least load for the type of test being assigned.  Note that clustering does not provide a fail-over mechanism.  If one member of the cluster goes offline or experiences similar issues, the tests of that cluster member are not reallocated to the other members of the cluster.

Cluster members can be either Virtual Appliances or Linux package Enterprise Agents.
 

Hardware requirements

We recommend that customers install Enterprise agents as virtual machines, onto existing hypervisor systems.  The following specifications show the minimum required hardware to run an Enterprise Agent.

ComponentMinimumRecommendedVirtual Appliance configuration
vCPU121
RAM512 MB2 GB12 GB
Disk Space12 GB20 GB20 GB (thin provisioned)

The recommended memory setting of 2 GB is a minimum for agents running using the ThousandEyes Browserbot, which is a full-featured browser bundled with the Agent software for running Page Load and Transaction tests.  1 GB of RAM is recommended for Agents which do not run the Browserbot component. 

Testing capabilities

Agents are capable of running the following tests, subject to the constraints of the account's subscription type:

LayerTest TypeCloud Agents?Enterprise Agents?Subscription Type
NetworkBGPno1no1Standard, Professional
NetworkNetworkyesyesStandard, Professional
WebHTTP ServeryesyesStandard, Professional
WebPage Loadyesyes2Professional only
WebTransactionyesyes2Professional only
DNSDNS TraceyesyesStandard, Professional
DNSDNS ServeryesyesStandard, Professional
DNSDNSSECyesyes3Standard, Professional
VoiceVoiceyes4yesStandard, Professional
DNS+DNS+ Domainno5no5Standard, Professional6
DNS+DNS+ Serverno5no5Standard, Professional6
1 BGP data is sourced from Public BGP data feeds and Private BGP Peers, not from Agents.
2 Page Load and Transaction tests require the ThousandEyes BrowserBot component to be enabled
3 DNSSEC tests require an agent to run its own, noncaching instance of DNS.  
4 Cloud Agents can act as either a testing agent, or as the Voice Test target, but not both.
5 All DNS+ tests use open public recursive resolvers.  No data is sourced from ThousandEyes Agents.
6 Requires additional licensing agreement


Additional resources

  • For firewall rule recommendations for Enterprise Agents, see this article
  • If you are interested in the type of data collected by ThousandEyes agents, see this article