Case Study

Front Porch uses CloudShark to Revolutionize Support Workflow

3 min read

We’re very happy to have Front Porch as a customer - they have become some of our biggest fans and are a perfect example of how to use CloudShark on pretty much any appliance that needs to look at network traffic.

The Challenge: Managing Multitudes of Capture Files from Customers for Service and Support

Front Porch is a dynamic company that works directly with Internet Service Providers and Retail & Venue Wi-Fi operators to maximize their ability to communicate with their customers via in-browser messaging. Their flagship products, the PorchLight 7500 (coupled with the Front Porch Services (FPS) management system) enable providers to communicate directly to the subscriber through their Internet browser, regardless of platform, browser or operating system, and without the need for client software or configuration.

As part of the messaging process, the PorchLight appliance is both monitoring traffic and interacting with the subscribers. With over one hundred PorchLight appliances installed worldwide, that generates a lot of packet capture data that the Front Porch team uses to troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

“We use Wireshark and tshark to capture traffic on the PorchLight so we can analyze the monitored traffic and the interaction between appliance and subscriber,” said Mat Wood, Network Engineer at Front Porch. “That’s a lot of data coming from multiple sources. We needed a way to transfer and manage the files from our installed appliances to our tech support and field engineering teams.”

The Solution: CloudShark Integration to Build a True Capture Management System

“Before CloudShark, we were manually downloading the captures and emailing them to teams or putting them on file stores that not every team had access to,” said Mat. “It was easy to forget a group on the email chain, or for people to delete their email and need the trace file again. We’d always run into issues where people didn’t seem to have access to the trace files and we’d waste time or momentum getting the correct files.”

CloudShark’s capture management features changed everything for Front Porch. “We were able to integrate the Cloudshark plugin directly on our appliance,” said Mat. “Whenever we use tshark or Wireshark to collect frames we can be prompted to upload the trace file directly to our CloudShark Appliance, where anybody in our company can access it, make comments, refer to it simply with a URL, or download for additional analysis in Wireshark.”

“My personal favorite is how quickly I can find the trace file I need,” said Mat. “We extensively use the tagging and tag filtering functions for organization, using tags per source department and customer.”

Better Collaboration Means a Better Workflow in Less Time

“The greatest benefit is definitely time saved both on getting the files to a place where our teams can access them,” said Mat, “But also from packet-level annotations, comments, and CloudShark’s other web features that allow easy idea sharing. It’s super handy to be able to filter a stream (and send a link with the filter already in place!) that we’ve already used advanced analysis to pinpoint and just say, ‘This stream has the problem.’”

“It’s amazing how many more trace files we’re able to work with.”