Network performance can be complicated for businesses to keep track of. Adding a network monitoring solution to your enterprise can help your network team to continuously observe the performance of your network. However, without a solid plan in place to address performance issues, your company will struggle to address critical performance issues. As such, there are certain questions your business needs to ask when considering network performance.
These questions are meant to get your enterprise talking about monitoring network performance intelligently; if you can’t answer these questions, then you won’t be able to conquer problems that could drag down your network performance. We listed nine network performance questions that your business needs to ask itself in order to successfully monitor and manage the performance of its networks.
If you’re looking for a network monitoring solution to address these performance questions but don’t know where to start, our 2019 Network Monitoring Buyer’s Guide has you covered! The guide contains profiles on the top network monitoring providers in the market today, including descriptions of the tools they offer and noteworthy features of each. The guide also features 10 questions you should ask prospective vendors and yourself before buying a network monitoring solution. You can check out that guide here!
Does my business have a network performance goal?
Successful network performance isn’t a “one size fits all” deal; every business will have different goals and requirements regarding their network performance. If your company offers services to customers delivered through your network, for example, it needs to ensure that the link between the client and your servers is always available; if your network is entirely closed-off from the public, however, your focus will be elsewhere. Defining a network performance goal allows your network team to know how they should approach performance monitoring and alterations. This goal should not be set in stone forever; it should change periodically to reflect new performance trends or address common problems.
Is the network reaching its performance baseline?
In order to know that your network is performing worse than it should, you need to know what your average and expected performance levels are. Your company needs to establish performance baselines to establish how your network typically behaves. This is not only useful for examining successful network performance over time, but also to help network monitoring tools and managers determine when performance dips below its expected quotient.
Do I have full visibility of my network’s performance?
You can’t judge the performance of your network if part of that network is in the dark. Your network solutions, including network managers and monitoring tools, need to be able to automatically detect and monitor every device in your infrastructure. Otherwise, you’ll have hardware running on your network that could be causing performance issues or malfunctioning. This also extends to performance metrics; if you can’t determine critical metrics (like latency, bandwidth usage, and packet loss) at every area of your network, your network team will lose valuable insights.
What areas of the network have the weakest service?
Network performance can differ at various points of your network depending on the hardware and location relative to the rest of the network. Any network monitoring solution worth its salt will examine the entire network, and be able to determine where network performance needs to be improved the most. Knowing where your network performance is the weakest should give your team an idea of where to start boosting performance first.
Are there any bandwidth hogs dragging performance down?
A bandwidth hog is a device or user on your network that uses bandwidth (or other network resources) far beyond their necessity. Bandwidth hogs can drag down network performance by wasting resources that could be applied elsewhere. A user could be using valuable network bandwidth for video streaming or downloading large files or applications. Your network monitoring solution can determine how much bandwidth is being used at what time, as well as which devices/users are currently using bandwidth — thus uncovering any bandwidth hogs in your infrastructure.
Is my business proactively fixing network performance issues?
Legacy network performance monitoring strategies focused on reacting to performance issues as they happened. This approach may have been fine decades ago, but in the modern era of networking, it isn’t sufficient anymore. Your enterprise needs to be proactively dealing with performance problems and stop them before they even happen. Many modern network monitoring tools come equipped with data analysis and trend discovery functions that can detect when network behavior is abnormal. This information can indicate that a performance issue is likely to happen, giving the network team a heads-up beforehand.
Is our network monitoring system delivering competent alerts?
One of the most important features of network monitoring solutions is alerting your company to a performance issue. Alerts need to give network teams the information they need to begin diagnosing and fixing the problem. At the basic level, a network monitoring tool needs to inform administrators about a performance problem — what it is, where it’s located, when it started, etc. Other capabilities to consider include tiered alerts that sort performance issues by how critical they are, and timed alerts to only allow alerts to come through during the hours when someone can respond to them (which reduces the possibility that an alert will be missed).
Is the hardware on my network outdated?
At some point, every piece of hardware in your network infrastructure is going to need replacing. Routers, switches, and access points are manufactured with different hardware specifications and can handle a specific amount of network traffic, bandwidth, and data transfer speed. If that hardware isn’t up-to-date as your network grows larger, it can drag down network performance and create bottlenecks. Your enterprise should periodically check your hardware to ensure that your devices are recent enough to support your network.
Is my business ready for network growth?
Enterprise networks are growing bigger and more complex all the time. Your network performance team needs to be ready to deal with an expanding network and be able to meet performance demands while accommodating for new hardware and subnets. Expansions to your network will typically be planned in advance, so your network team will have enough time to anticipate how network growth will affect performance.
Looking for a solution to help you improve your network performance? Our Network Monitoring Buyer’s Guide contains profiles on the top network performance monitor vendors, as well as questions you should ask providers and yourself before buying.
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