How to Measure Network Performance
To run an enterprise effectively today, a good chunk of the yearly budget will have to be directed towards the provision of internet connectivity for running day-to-day office tasks without unnecessary delays or downtimes.
As more and more organizations continue to rely on SaaS and cloud applications to complete most of their tasks, it becomes important that they are not just online 24/7, but that they are also able to offer their services effortlessly and reliably. These give rise to a need for an enterprise to measure network performance periodically to ensure that:
- They are getting what they are paying for
- All components are performing optimally
- They keep a tab on the rate of flow of data between users on the network
- They have the metrics that enable them to improve user satisfaction
- Impending bottlenecks or errors which might lead to network crisis are detected before they mature
Challenges Surrounding the Measurement of Network Performance
With the understanding that network performance entails the quality of service being provided by a network in its entirety; one is faced with analyzing the numerous parameters and components that are enveloped in a network before being able to provide an assessment of such network. Considering the complexity of modern-day wireless networks; opting for manual approaches, a thorough evaluation is almost impossible and will be utterly tedious to process and finalize. Consequently, an attempt to measure network performance without the use of specially designed processes and tools, will eat into a company’s productivity, and as well as incur financial losses for every minute of downtime.
Network demands increase every day, and that makes it very important for measurements to be carried out properly. The qualitative and quantitative aspects of a network need to be captured in each measurement procedure, so that all needed data are generated for use, in case of any occurrence of network performance problems.
Common Network Performance Challenges
A common challenge that we have encountered while trying to determine network performance was the lack of a real-time provision that enables the instant detection of problems in transmission, routing, network paths, servers, bandwidth, etc. This meant that IT professionals had to conduct network measurement half-blind until they stumble upon the problems halfway. Most of the time, data gathered is never complete, as slight errors in latency or packet loss might not be detected, thus leading to technical oversights that can lead to IT crisis in the long run.
How to Measure Network Performance
When optimizing network performance there are important metrics that must be measured. Some common metrics used to measure network performance include latency, packet loss indicators, jitter, bandwidth, and throughput.
Latency can be used to measure network delays, focusing on the time spent in the successful transfer of packets or a packet of data from one point to another within a network. A network that is working perfectly should have zero or near-zero latency. The measurement of latency is given in milliseconds and is determined or compared to the speed of light, which is at 186,000 Miles/sec.
To be able to measure the latency of a network, you will have to consider:
- the physical distance between the points in question
- the fastest route between the ends
- the delays which might have been caused by hardware and applications processing the data transmission
Packet loss refers to the number of packets that were successfully sent out from one point in a network, but never got to their destination. To be able to measure this, the focus will have to be laid on capturing data traffic on the points involved – both the sender and the receiver – and subsequently determining the number of packets that didn’t get to their destination. This provides a measure for determining network performance, as the lost packets are expressed as a percentage of the total number of sent packets. Often, more than 3% of packet loss implies that the network is not performing optimally.
Bandwidth and Throughput
These two-work hand in hand in measuring network performance. Bandwidth refers to the number of data that can be transmitted from one point to another in a network, within a given time. Throughput, on the other hand, is the number of data that got transmitted from one point to another within the given time. A network performance measurement is created when the throughput is analyzed against the bandwidth. A throughput that is significantly lower than the bandwidth indicates a poor network performance.
The measurement of jitter can be detected while making use of the network for VoIP applications, by determining the closeness of the VoIP audio or video to real physical interaction. Otherwise, it is identified as a manifestation of uneven or increased latency or the disruption that occurs during the flow of data packets across the network.
What Affects Network Performance?
Some of the factors affecting network performance include applications in use, network security, network infrastructure, and general network issues. To get the best of any network, these key issues will have to be addressed as they will directly impact network performance KPIs.
Applications that are not streamlined to suit the capacities of a network or applications which are performing slowly can apply unnecessary stress on a network’s bandwidth and reduce user experience. When possible, applications should be designed with the network in mind, as diagnosing these application issues in post-release can be a challenging task.
Infrastructure and Network issues
This includes all routers, firewalls, and switches as they can in one way or the other give rise to network performance issues. Measuring these components individually can be a hard nut to crack, but LiveAction’s network management solution breaks down the complexity to provide insights on the performance of a network’s components, to ease the stress and boost the accuracy of the network monitoring and management across IT departments in different enterprises.
Manage and Measure Network Performance with LiveAction
With the advent of advanced network management solutions, measuring network performance in real-time has become possible. And LiveAction remains at the forefront of offering reliable solutions that enable clients to determine network performance fluidly.
LiveAction’s network performance management system consists of powerful tools, LiveNX, and LiveWire acting as a system that provides visibility into the health of the entire network, in real-time. Armed with the LiveNX solution you can be assured that all the indicators of network performance that you need are just a few clicks away, thereby reducing Mean-Time-To-Resolution (MTTR). Contact us to learn more about how LiveAction can increase your network visibility and performance.