Network Monitoring Best Practices For Optimal Network Performance

network monitoring best practice

Network performance monitoring means using specialized software tools to oversee the operation of a computer network, ensuring the network’s availability and measuring the network’s performance.

Optimum performance of any computer network is vital in delivering a reliable service for end users of that network. Typical end users of a network could be employees using an office intranet network or students connected to a university’s internet service.

Network Monitoring Is Vital For A Number Of Reasons:

  • Most network monitoring software lets you analyze the network in real-time. Administrators receive alerts about major network issues as they are detected, ensuring minimal downtime for users of the network.
  • Information gleaned from network monitoring is useful in identifying required upgrades to system components. Servers that can’t handle the network’s bandwidth can be upgraded, for example.
  • Since network monitoring tools rely on automated software to monitor the network, automated monitoring saves time and money compared to having someone manually checking the network.

The larger a network grows, the more difficult it is to monitor effectively. Network monitoring tools tend to be numerous on one large network, meaning administrators need to wade through lots of dashboards and data to identify potential network issues.

The following five tips highlight some of the best network monitoring practices you can implement to get optimal network performance.

Establish A Baseline

It’s important to have a clear picture of exactly how your network infrastructure should perform under normal working conditions. The baseline can change over time depending on the number of people using the network and other factors, so baselining isn’t a “set it and leave it” approach.

The main point of establishing a baseline is to define a set of metrics that determine the current requirements of network hardware. This way, you can make attempts to provide optimum network performance for users of that network by upgrading devices that cannot meet the baseline performance levels.

Run baseline tests on routers, switches, firewalls, and other devices.

Define A Network Alert Structure

Network monitoring allows for quick troubleshooting of issues, but the efficacy of any network monitoring effort is only as good as the alert structure you put in place. A sensible alert routing algorithm should direct alerts towards relevant personnel who can best deal with them. For example, IT personnel can be alerted when there is a fault with a device on the network.

Furthermore, any alert system should incorporate the severity of an alert into its resolution structure. Specialized alert management software can help ensure alerts get auto-escalated to the right people at the right times according to the severity of the underlying issues.

Factor In Capacity Planning

Any effective network monitoring effort should involve capacity planning. In the context of a network, capacity planning monitors network traffic and determines how much bandwidth the network will need in the future to perform optimally.

Dealing with bandwidth issues as and when they arise is not the most efficient way to handle your network. The last thing any network admin needs is congestion due to a lack of bandwidth that could have been anticipated and dealt with in advance by using capacity planning tools.

Network capacity planning reports give administrators detailed statistics on the most congested network links. Admins can then proactively add bandwidth to those areas which will experience slowdowns if current traffic growth is maintained.

Manage Your Network Device Inventory

You need to keep a detailed inventory of network devices to effectively monitor the network for optimum performance. It’s easy to lose track of which devices are in use and which devices have undergone recent configuration changes, especially on a large network.

A proper network device inventory helps you identify used and unused devices, track configuration changes, and check on the current memory utilization status and IP addresses of the devices on your network.

To make a network device inventory, make a list of all devices you need to monitor. Then, add each device as a node on your network monitoring tools, before grouping devices into sensible categories, such as where they are physically located. Open source and premium network inventory tools can help you out.

Use Network Packet Capture

Specialized packet sniffer tools can be used to help you identify issues on the network with latency or other problems that affect the transmission of data. Such tools when used for legitimate purposes by a network monitoring team can intercept, log, and decode data sent across a network to see if there are any issues with how that data gets transmitted.

Closing Thoughts

  • Network monitoring is an important process for getting an overview of a computer network, its performance, and its availability.
  • Incorporating network monitoring best practices is helpful in ensuring optimum network performance.
  • Any network monitoring effort is only as useful as the tools used to monitor the system.
  • Consider using a proactive monitoring platform that uses synthetic traffic monitoring to deliver intelligent insights that drive the best network performance.
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