Network Monitoring Tools: Network Performance Monitoring
Network monitoring tools allow organizations to baseline the network performance of their hardware and software infrastructure. With a baseline of nominal operations in hand, IT is positioned to recognize and respond to conditions that can negatively impact network performance and threaten the user community’s productivity and quality of experience.
Network Performance Monitoring ApplicationsRegardless of how well the physical network is planned and managed, overall network performance will suffer if the applications that are hosted on the network, in the cloud, or in a hybrid of the two and transmit information are compromised. Examples of adverse application performance include erroneous execution, which can completely disable the application or cause the application to overwhelm servers or circuits, and inappropriate or unanticipated utilization, such as when personnel download large files or streaming video or when demand for access exceeds projections. Similarly, in a cloud or hybrid environment you can lose visibility and control of what’s being transmitted and how - often resulting in a poor end-user experience.
Adverse conditions can arise due to planned or unanticipated events that drive change. For planned activities, IT can leverage the network performance baseline to simulate and test the effects of proposed modifications, such as the introduction of new users or applications, and determine if the current network architecture is adequate or requires reconfiguration or upgrade. When unexpected scenarios unfold, network performance monitoring tools can alert IT to deviations from the nominal baseline so corrective action can be initiated.
The goal of network performance monitoring tools is to provide a depiction of operations so potential problems can be proactively avoided, and anomalies that do occur can be detected, isolated, and resolved with a minimum mean-time-to-repair. Unfortunately, the network monitoring function is often siloed by geography, department, service, or network layer, which inhibits realizing the objective.
Key Considerations for a Network Monitoring ToolThe ideal network performance monitoring tools are comprehensive. Network monitoring tools must have breadth, meaning that the network monitoring tools are scalable and robust enough to accommodate an end-to-end perspective across the enterprise, even for large organizations. Network performance monitoring tools also must possess depth, with the capability to span all seven layers of the network stack. Without both dimensions, IT is severely restricted in its efforts to identify the location of the problem, and to pinpoint if the root cause of the problem lies in an application, a system/server, or in a core network element such as a router or switch.
Perhaps more significantly, a comprehensive network performance monitoring tool promotes the resolution of more complex anomalies. Straightforward, linear degradations are often obvious, but intermittent issues are far more challenging to address. Likewise, while some problems may manifest themselves on the network, the source of the trouble may reside outside the enterprise’s domain – with a service provider. These types of anomalies simply cannot be brought to closure quickly by point solutions.
Superior network performance can be attained thanks to network management and monitoring tools, but only if the tools account for the following key considerations:
- Horizontal breadth (the software has an end-to-end purview throughout the enterprise)
- Vertical depth (the software traverses all seven layers of the network to incorporate application, server, and network performance data)
- Real-time and back-in-time views (the software can display and assess current and historical information to find the root cause of problems that arise intermittently)
- Comprehensive interfaces (the software offers a centralized repository from all data sources so IT can leverage easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and reports to speed accurate problem resolution)