Network optimization

Networks are already complex communication structures, and it's an uphill battle for IT teams to maintain the status quo. When new applications and technologies are then introduced to these networks based on growing business needs, this can cause a major slump in network performance and reliability issues.

Network performance is negatively impacted by the introduction of:

  • New devices, often due to an increased workforce.
  • New applications.
  • Increased virtual private network (VPN) connectivity due to work-from-home policies.
  • New technology like a private cloud or big data.

While all of these are inevitable in a networking environment, IT admins must find a way to tackle these network pitfalls, which leads to network optimization.

What is network optimization?

Network optimization is the process of improving network efficiency with the help of sophisticated tools and dedicated network configurations, and often without introducing any additional hardware into the network.

How to optimize network performance for maximum efficiency?

You can't optimize what you can't see. Network optimization techniques include:

Once you find the root cause of performance lag, network performance can be optimized using suitable network optimization tools.

Identifying critical aspects that impact network performance

While there are multiple devices and parameters to be monitored in a network, only a handful of factors influence the performance of a network. Some key factors that greatly impact network performance include:

  • Latency
  • Jitter
  • Packet loss
  • Device uptime or availability
  • Device health and performance
    • CPU utilization
    • Disk utilization
    • CPU temperature

Monitoring critical aspects, and optimizing with network optimization tools

Continuously monitoring the key performance indicators (KPI) mentioned above for even a few tens of devices in a network is a punishing task for any IT admin. When you have hundreds or thousands of devices, this becomes nearly impossible. To monitor these critical metrics and optimize them for maximum efficiency, you need network optimization tools, like ManageEngine's powerful network optimization software, OpManager.

Latency: Latency is the time between a request and its corresponding response. When the response time for requests increases, the latency increases, which in turn affects the end-user experience.

Jitter: Jitter is the result of asymmetric data packet transmission. It makes audio and video calls choppy.

Packet loss: When data packets fail to reach their intended destination, it's called packet loss. This results in dropped calls and subpar network performance.

Tolerance levels

Latency: 100 to 125 milliseconds**
Packet loss: One to two and a half percent**

**Depends on your company's quality of service (QoS) policies and risk appetite.

Monitoring latency, packet loss, and jitter

Using OpManager's WAN RTT Monitor, you can configure these values as thresholds; when this threshold is breached, your network's performance has significantly dropped. OpManager instantly notifies you of this breach.

Identifying the root cause, and optimizing the network for performance

Network congestion is the main cause of latency, packet loss, and jitter. Using OpManager, you can identify devices or users consuming maximum bandwidth, monitor traffic usage at any given time, and optimize network performance.

Device uptime or availability

The critical network devices in a networking environment include:

  • Application servers
  • Web servers
  • Switches
  • Routers
  • Load balancers
  • Wireless LAN Controllers (WLCs)
  • Storage devices

When any of these devices are not available, it can wreak havoc in daily business operations, or make your organization seem less reliable in the eyes of your customers.

Acceptable downtime

Devices: 21.56 minutes/month, or 99.95 percent availability**

**Depends on your company's QoS policies and risk appetite.

Monitoring device availability

Using OpManager, you can monitor the availability of critical devices such as servers, routers, switches, load balancers, storage devices, and WLCs from vendors like Cisco, Aruba, HPE, Huawei, or Juniper. OpManager offers over 53,000 vendor templates for monitoring network devices, and employs a wide range of protocols including Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), and more to immediately alert you when any devices are unavailable.

Automating network optimization

OpManager's Workflow feature helps you automate tasks that would otherwise have to be performed manually. Using the drag-and-drop workflow builder, all you have to do is set up a ping test and a DNS lookup for the critical devices in your network. If the device doesn't respond to the ping test or the DNS lookup, OpManager automatically triggers the workflow to start, stop, or reboot the device. In doing this, you can choose which network processes to automate to achieve prime network optimization.

Device health and performance: Network performance is one of the most important factors that impact device health, coming in second only to latency. The health of any device can be summed up with the following factors:

  • CPU utilization: CPU utilization refers to the amount of work handled by the CPU over any period. High rates of CPU utilization indicate poor performance and high wait time for tasks in the queue.
  • Memory utilization: Memory utilization refers to the amount of physical memory used for processing. This value is an average over time.
  • CPU temperature: High CPU temperatures negatively impact performance. This could be due to airflow issues, cooling system failure, or heavy CPU workloads.

Acceptable utilization levels

Server: 60 percent CPU utilization and 50 percent memory utilization**
Router: 40 to 50 percent CPU utilization and 50 percent memory utilization**
Switch: 50 to 60 percent CPU utilization and 50 percent memory utilization**

**Depends on the workloads, device make and model, and your company's QoS policies and risk appetite.

Monitoring device performance

With OpManager, you can monitor CPU usage, memory usage, disk usage, CPU temperature, and other metrics of servers, routers, switches, and other networking devices in real time. OpManager supports protocols such as SNMP, WMI, and command-line interface (CLI), providing data with up to one-minute granularity and helping you identify devices with substandard performance and critical issues.

Optimizing network performance

Once these devices are identified, you can navigate to the device snapshot page in OpManager and view all the processes and services active in the servers. You can remotely kill these processes and services to help bring CPU and memory usage down significantly. Additionally, creating workflows to automate network processes using OpManager's Workflow feature ensures optimal performance for these tasks, and eliminates the risk of human error.

Use case:

In any organization, the primary edge device (router/firewall directly connected to ISP) greatly impacts the network performance. If the primary edge device is dropping packets and the ISP link is up, the secondary device or interface will not switch over automatically.

It needs a manual intervention. IT admin will login and switch to the secondary device/ interface only after complaints are raised by users on network performance. This time lag and manual intervention impacts business service and continuity. Using OpManager, the IT admin can monitor the primary edge device proactively and receive alerts when the packet drop is high. The IT admin can also automate this process using workflows in OpManager. The secondary device can be automatically switched by executing Configlets (configuration templates) using workflows..

Similarly, IT teams can take advantage of OpManager's functionalities to optimize their networking environment.

Whether you want to monitor your network, optimize it, or even automate optimization, OpManager has got you covered. Download OpManager now, and optimize your network for high performance!

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