Regardless of recent improvements in network performance and capacity, it is essential for network administrators to periodically assess the reliability of network technology and its ability to meet business needs. Consequently, network performance assessments can help organizations determine whether the programs, hosts, and applications that are installed on the corporate network function properly.
We are proficient in assessing the network performance of corporate and business units and help the organization to regulate and maintain their networks intact and hence protect the business productivity.
Benefits of Network Performance
- Helps improve network utilization
- Helps in capacity planning
- Helps to manage network better
- Helps in network performance optimization
- Increases network productivity
- Helps achieve organization to achieve its near goals/targets based on their network
Understand the network setup
We start off the network performance assessment task, by first understanding the network setup. This can be achieved by reviewing the network diagram. Network diagram gives an overview of:
- Network components and devices
- Data storage and route information
- Type of data flowing in network (database, SMTP/POP3, SNMP, LDAP, etc.)
- Big picture of network congestion points
- Network component redundancy information
Once the network setup and the information flowing in it is clearly understood, then NII consultants will start monitoring individual traffic on individual nodes for the volume of data transferred during typical times in the day and/or night. This exercise will give a clear picture of the company’s total bandwidth use.
Then we will review the configuration of all network devices (e.g., routers, firewalls, printer settings etc) and the configuration of network applications (e.g., determining whether the server application is excessively querying clients). Reviewing of network applications typically includes:
- Importance of application to business
- Best practices
- Configuration issues
Protocol analysis is a prerequisite for the next step of Network performance analysis called ‘Data error rate’. In this, we go into the nitty-gritty of the protocols and have a closer look at the actual packets flowing on the network along with their volume and frequency.
This helps in understanding, if there are some other protocols/packets flowing on the network un-intentionally or un-attended, which might be utilizing the network’s current bandwidth.
Data Error rate
Data collected from the previous step, will be an input to this exercise. One of the simple reasons why data errors occur is due to any losses of packets flowing within the network. In this phase, we will also check the end-to-end connectivity of cables using hardware cable testers.
Once the network protocol and data error rates are analyzed, and then individual systems those contribute to the network usage issues are examined closely. These systems could be either a server (UNIX, Windows, Linux based), desktop machines (acting as clients to some applications), or network devices (switches, routers). Typically their overall configuration, system parameters, CPU utilization, network application usage etc will be reviewed in this stage.
Post analysis step includes collection and co-relation of data collected during the entire exercise.
Co-relation typically includes:
- Current network setup and capacity
- Current business requirements
- Near future goals of the organization
- Configuration issues (overall and individual) if any
Articles written by us and published in the IT Auditor magazine of the IIA can also be referred to:
- Assessing Bandwidth Use as a Function of Network Performance
- Essential Aspects of an Effective Network Performance Audit http://www.theiia.org/intAuditor/itaudit/archives/2007/december/essential-aspects-of-an-effective-network-performance-audit/