Network speed and performance are simple IT issues that, when out of control, can cost organizations thousands in lost time, customer satisfaction, and in IT investment.

Issues ranging from latency to packet loss and retransmission will slow your network down, cause data-transfer issues, and may even result in costly outages.

Network performance management is the best way to reduce these issues to ensure your network remains stable and performing at its best.

Most organizations can greatly benefit from implementing network management across every network they control. If you’re outsourcing networks or integrating cloud networks, performance management should be included as part of the package. If not, your IT teams are responsible for installing, implementing, and managing network management tools to maintain optimal network performance.

Network Performance Assessment

The first step to implementing network performance is to simply assess what you have, how well it’s working, and how well it isn’t working. This assessment should include any networks you want to improve or maintain.

LAN, digital signage, infrastructure, and any other private networks you might maintain are all candidates.

Bottlenecks – Are there instances, places, or periods where networks are bottlenecking? E.g., is a network frequently crashing, slowing, or performing poorly at certain places or during certain periods

User Load – What is average user load? Does that match network load?

If you have performance management tools in place or have some way to see data from the network, you can also look at latency, throughput, packet loss, and retransmission data to determine how well your network is performing.

Assessing your existing network and its performance will give you a good idea of what to improve, what’s going wrong, and why. However, you may have to take some of these steps after you install a performance management tool if you don’t have a convenient way to collect data on your network. If so, follow the steps under data management and analytical tools first, because you will need those tools unless you outsource your network management.

Identify Solutions

Once you’ve identified problems on your network, you can take steps to identify solutions. These will typically take two forms. Data management and analytics tools and preventive and optimization measures.

Data Management and Analytics Tools

These tools allow you to collect information from the network including its current status, performance, health, and working.

These tools must be able to collect and process information into a dashboard or other readable format, hopefully with automation and alerts to recognize and alert users to problems or issues.

This software must be implemented with protocols regarding data usage, how data is transmitted from the element to the software, and how and when users respond to information.

  • Ping – Ping is a network administrator tool that tests the reachability and availability of a host in a network. This allows you to measure whether a host is active, transmission time, and packet loss during pings.
  • SNMP – Simple Network Management Protocol is the most common protocol used for monitoring networks. SNMP is composed of a managed device, an agent software program that accesses managed devices and transmits information and a Network Management System that monitors and controls managed devices through the agent.
  • Logging – Tools like Syslog log messaging and event notification across network devices such as routers, printers, and even firewalls.  These should be utilized for system management and auditing.

Optimization Measures

Chances are that if your network is experiencing problems, it should be optimized.

If you are frequently overloading your network, you likely need to scale up, change how data is routed across the network, or reassign other elements such as traffic shaping or network infrastructure.

This might involve implementing more servers, expanding the network, or switching to a more saleable cloud network.

Common steps include working to simplify the network to improve efficiency, optimizing network efficiency, and expanding the network to meet recognized needs.

Implementing Policies

A quality network performance management system will provide all the data you need to act for preventive maintenance, management, and issue-resolution. However, it’s up to your organization to utilize it properly.

Implementing network management policies and processes will help to ensure this. Policies should include items such as how often to check data, how to respond to data, and what to do to prevent issues from reoccurring.

Network management is at its most valuable when it identifies issues before they cause downtime so it’s important to ensure monitoring tools are actually being monitored.

Third-Party Support

While most organizations could greatly benefit from network management, few organizations have the tools or resources to implement and manage it properly over the long-term. Implementing third-party IT services or cloud network infrastructures can reduce this need, as third-party IT will have more resources, more available specialists, and existing software and hardware to create and manage these solutions for your organization.

Implementing third-party network management also means your networks will be automatically optimized to reduce issues and errors based on analysis and ongoing monitoring, reducing some of the need and demand on performance management.

Network maintenance is crucial to ongoing performance, no matter what you’re running on that network. Network performance management is an essential because it’s the only way to ensure networks offer performance throughout the day, handle peak periods without crashing, and that data-loss and latency aren’t causing issues on your servers, application, or signage.