Change is the one constant in the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) sector. CIOs face constant pressure to build environments that are capable of keeping up with business demands in the data-driven times we live, work and play in. Mergers, buy-outs and organic growth all contribute to the complexities found in modern enterprise networks.
The need for iterative capacity planning is high on CIOs priority lists as the dependency on networks – that are both fast and complex – increases. IT operations rely on network performance monitoring tools to give them the statistics and the data they need to plan the future of their networks.
Establishing a performance baseline of your network
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. This adage couldn’t ring more true than in the network management sphere. Establishing a performance baseline means measuring the network’s capacity to perform favourably while provisioning the business with its required applications and services. This baseline allows you to understand performance irregularities and map a path for growth, according to business requirement. In the absence of a baseline, your network performance reporting will include a lot of guesswork. So what should your baseline measure?
Determine how the network is utilised. Understanding where traffic is coming from and which segments are seeing the highest utilisation. Identify highest network usage applications and investigate causes.
Packet information include detailed information on application and network layer functions. Aids in determining whether performance issues are application or network based.
Examine which protocols are utilising the network the most, how and why. Use protocol information to understand quality of service requirements and establish network performance SLAs.
Base lining should include a detailed visual map of the environment, charting out as many network devices as possible. IP address management tools collect information on every device and makes logging and tracking IP usage simple. A detailed visual representation of all IP devices maps the network out and allows for better expansion planning and fault identification.
Network performance monitoring over a time period
Establishing your baseline takes a period of time. Determining how your network performs at certain times of the day, week or month means measuring performance over extended periods of time. When the finance department is running monthly payroll and supplier payments, in is conceivable that you will see higher traffic patterns that reflect this activity.
Email servers are typically most busy on Monday mornings due to the volumes of email being processed as the business starts its week ahead. It is advisable to set a time period of one calendar month to establish a baseline that will give you a good understanding of the network’s ebbs and flows.
Don’t forget your users
Crucial to aiding IT understand performance issues on the network is the user. IT managers should frequently consult with other departments regarding the user experience with applications and resources. Taking the time to get away from the computer monitor and interacting with business users to understand how resources are utilised, when and why, gives IT the vantage point they may not have otherwise gained from their performance monitoring tools.
Network performance monitoring is an on-going IT function
Networks change all the time and require consistent monitoring for IT to understand how the various internal and external elements at play affect its performance, stability, security and capacity. IT executives need a comprehensive network performance monitoring strategy that includes the required monitoring tools that give them the data and statistics required to set performance baselines that are so important to maintaining a system that is able to match the ever-increasing needs placed on it.
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