The modern IT network encounters a lot of twists and turns on its way to high performance and user satisfaction. The humble network, which for a long time was fairly straightforward, is now a complicated infrastructure component that requires careful management and monitoring. Private and public network topologies are much more diverse these days, so that app delivery takes many twists and turns through paths, protocols and configurations along various networks, whether LAN, WAN or cloud.
As the network is being pushed front and center, according to IDG’s 2016 State of the Network study, network teams have to collaborate more with the greater IT realm and the organization. The metrics involved have gotten more important, and more complicated, as the network has gotten more complex. And, as networks are more complex, they also have to start working as part of a bigger team. The network can’t exist in isolation anymore. Instead, it has to enable the rest of the infrastructure components to do their jobs.
End-user experience has become a high priority in enterprise computing, and the network plays a major part in that. IDG’s study found that respondents see both the challenges and rewards of cloud. Seven out of ten of IT pros surveyed said the cloud will add complexity for the networking team, and six out of ten said it would alter the structure of the network team. But a majority also responded that cloud computing will help the networking team gain tech knowledge and become more valuable to the business. That reflects both the challenges and opportunities now faced by network teams.
The Network Metrics That Matter
The handy network metrics you’ve been gathering all these years don’t have to lose their value as the focus and goals of IT services change. You can use those metrics in the troubleshooting process to solve end-user problems, and, even better, to get ahead of user complaints proactively. Gartner recommends using a combination of both quantitative and qualitative metrics in the troubleshooting process to get to the root of issues.
There are a few key network metrics we recommend to tie network performance to end-user experience (and find here the application performance metrics we recommend). Start with these as you’re looking for the right mix of metrics.
Link Latency and Round-Trip Time: These numbers will show you which path in the network is causing performance delays. These metrics have become especially important as the types and numbers of networks have increased. Link latency and round-trip time apply to both public and private networks, which is useful in a hybrid environment.
Jitter: This network metric reflects the time differences in packets arriving at their destination. In a modern context, it can explain inconsistent user experience measurements across multiple applications.
Throughput: This is a basic measure of how much information a system can process in a certain amount of time, and applies across many systems. It’s a key application metric to measure for better end-user experience. Identifying throughput problems can help IT get to the root of network-related issues as well.
Available Capacity: Measure this number over time, as it can identify user problems stemming from improper resource allocation.
Bandwidth Consumed: Keep an eye on this metric and any changes over time to get a better understanding of the network resources available to the application in question.
Other metrics related to infrastructure health are involved in improving end-user experience. Database response times can reveal latency issues for certain functions, and you should filter by geographic area to reveal the impact of local network problems on those users.
Using network metrics to benefit your end users can lead to better, faster problem solving, more uptime, and right-sized resources and bandwidth. Which of these metrics are you using?
Did you miss Part I? Read it here!