What is Bandwidth Utilization?

Bandwidth utilization refers to the amount of bandwidth consumed on a network or network segment and the breakdown of its composite traffic. Understanding how bandwidth is utilized in a network is of critical importance to a network manager who is chiefly responsible for ensuring peak network performance. By using sophisticated network monitoring software, they can track traffic throughout large and complex networks and determine how bandwidth is being utilized. For instance, software solutions can monitor bandwidth utilization by port, and even by direction, which is extremely useful in pinpointing problems or to justify additional bandwidth. They can then enact policies that prioritize traffic for high demand applications.

How is Bandwidth Utilization determined?

There are many enterprise solutions that enable network managers to understand their bandwidth usage. For instance, Cisco’s NetFlow is a bandwidth monitoring protocol that collects IP network traffic data. Bandwidth monitoring is the collection, aggregation, and analysis of network traffic by endpoint (user), port, interface, and protocol (application). By collecting key values (source IP address, destination IP address, source port, destination port, IP protocol, Ingress interface, type of service values), network monitoring software can recreate data flows and model network traffic visually.

More advanced solutions offer additional features such as deep packet inspection (DPI), which can look inside packets to further understand bandwidth utilization. In these instances, further action can be taken like blocking packets that violate policies or rerouting packets that have been flagged priority.

Visualizing Bandwidth Utilization

Using the LiveNX Quality of Service (QoS) monitor, bandwidth can be seen before and after QoS policies have been applied (Figure 1). Notice the difference in total bandwidth usage in the top and bottom graphs.

qos-monitor

Figure 1

Because bandwidth can be understood at a granular level using sophisticated software, limitations can be set for non-essential traffic while prioritizing business critical services (Figure 2).

Bandwidth QoS

Figure 2

Related Terms

Network Performance Baselining

A network performance baseline is a picture of a network infrastructure’s traffic during normal working conditions. As an industry best practice, network managers use baseline performance metrics to compare normal network traffic to abnormal conditions in order to anticipate network

deterioration or failures or troubleshoot performance. Network performance baselines are also important for determining when future capacity upgrades are necessary, or for complying with the capacity requirements of service-level agreements (SLA).