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Networks have evolved considerably over the years, but the need for network performance metrics has always remained constant. Network performance, which looks for slow and failing systems, is a quality of service metric of your company’s networks as experienced by your customers. It is essential for your business to monitor network performance to maintain productivity, reputation, and to help avoid serious threats from server downtimes.

What is the Network?

The network refers to the internal network or Local Area Network (LAN) of your organization as well as the external Internet connection from your Internet Service Provider. Your external connections also include infrastructure and network equipment. Every business needs a network performance system that monitors the external and internal networks whether the company uses a LAN, a WAN (Wide Area Network), or just hosts network-based applications.

What Should You Measure and Why?

There are several elements of your network that should be monitored to optimize the network best and ensure its availability to customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Monitoring will help your network manager and team stay informed as well as  diagnose and report any issues in real time. Performance metric systems take a proactive approach and eliminate the need for manual system checks in addition to creating performance benchmarks and tracking trends in network health. The key metrics to monitor include:

Network Availability

Network availability is probably the most important metric in the system. Your company needs its network, both internal and external, to remain operational during business hours. Monitoring the availability can prevent network outages and slowdowns by reallocating network resources as needed. Redundant network connections are also important and should be an integral action if you experience a sudden and unavoidable outage, like from natural disasters or a failing external ISP. Your company can increase network availability with cloud services or through virtualization services for fast network replications and little downtime.

Network Utilization

As network utilization increases, performance on the network, circuits, and applications may be affected. Increased utilization can also lead to circuit degradation. By monitoring how the network is used and trends over time, your network manager can reallocate resources and monitor circuit health to prevent slowing or outages. Likewise, trends in network utilization will also identify underutilization and may be used to help save costs if your company is overspending.

Bandwidth and Throughput

Bandwidth, which is measured in bits/second, is the maximum rate data can transfer back and forth, or up and down the network, and is the controlling element of throughput. Throughput measures how much data or units of data a network can process in a given amount of time. Network monitoring for bandwidth and throughput measures the speed, workload, and response time between the sender and receiver.

Latency and Jitter

Latency is the time delay measured in sending data or voice over a network. Significant and recurring latency issues can have a significant impact on your organization’s productivity and quality of service, which affects your bottom line as well as your reputation as a company. Jitter is also a time delay but affects your voice and video services. It is the variation in the delay of data packets received and in voice and video conference can lead to skips, static, or flickering as packets catch up at different times.

Benefits of Network Performance Metrics

Network monitoring saves your company time and money by providing proactive and reactive reporting. Without network monitoring, your IT professionals and network manager would spend a significant time investigating a reactive issue; all the while, your systems may be down. If your network management team can identify issues before they make an impact on your operations and provide solutions your company can maintain a smooth operation.

Proactively, network monitoring helps network professional troubleshoot and identify the elements give your network problems. Monitoring is also constant, so trends in utilization and performance will help predict future weakness and provide performance benchmarks. Benchmarking and predictive analysis help your company better plan for future network changes that may incur expense. Knowing what and when to upgrade or replace network equipment helps your organization avoid unexpected expenses that affect your budget.

Network Monitoring as a Service

Operating a network without real-time network monitoring is like flying blind. The good news is, there are some excellent software tools available that your network manager can easily integrate into your network and computer systems to aid with network monitoring. Your network team, if given the proper tools to measure and monitor your network’s health, can quickly make adjustments based on real-time data. Before you spend additional funds on network monitoring software, you can also consult with your unified communications provider or cloud service provider. Often, your outsourced communications partners provide monitoring software or applications that are fully compatible with the systems your organization uses. Monitoring applications provided as a service are dynamic and take real-time action to mitigate network congestion or reallocate resources as needed.

Network monitoring is essential for today business operations. Monitoring gives your network manager and team a complete view of the internal and external health of your systems whether they are physical or virtual. Integrating network monitoring with your communication systems and cloud services is one of the several ways to save time and money as well as avoid downtimes.