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3 Ways to Optimize Network Performance

Introduction

To optimize is to make something as effective, perfect or useful as possible. Taking steps to optimize a network improves its performance, which is an important part of IT management. With Big Data, video and other binary large objects increasingly passing through networks, maintaining sufficient bandwidth, load balancing and other aspects of network optimization become even more important if you are to provide the services your users expect and demand.

What Optimization Delivers

Simplicity and the lowest cost. An optimized network uses the simplest design that provides the performance required now and in the foreseeable future. Generally, a simpler network design translates to a lower cost network, both from the standpoints of implementation and maintenance.

Fast, efficient data transfer. A key measure of performance is the speed at which data can be transferred. That rate is crucial to many common operations that include…

  • Server and workstation backups to a storage device
  • Restoring data in a disaster recovery scenario
  • Servicing users whose applications require speedy access to databases
  • Maximizing network speed between remote offices
  • Giving mobile users efficient access to corporate IT resources

Greater efficiency and productivity. By taking steps that analyze the network beginning at each workstation, each server and the connections between them, network analysts can study issues like data caching and compression, traffic shaping, elimination of redundant and unneeded data, optimisation of data protocols and other issues that create bottlenecks and reduce productivity.

Yet, there’s even more. An optimized network also brings you…

  • Greater security
  • Greater availability and reliability with up to 99.999 percent up time
  • For those networks supporting VoiP, an improved Quality of Service (QoS)

3 Ways You Can Optimize

Network optimization is both a science and an art because there are so many factors that can affect a network’s performance. However, these three rise to the top of the list as you begin to study your network. If you’re able to improve these three problem areas, you’ve taken the first steps to improving performance.

#1. Begin with the Physical Network Layer

Look for cabling and patch cords that are incorrectly terminated. Do cable lengths exceed maximum length specifications? Are optical cables bent beyond the safe bend radius spec? Do you have closet spaghetti or cables tied too close to power line conduits? Are servers and racks properly grounded?

Once you’ve corrected such physical layer problems, review the active electronics — switches, routers, firewalls, servers, etc. — to determine if they’re outdated and need upgrades or replacement.

#2. Pay Attention to Applications

Software applications tend to consume more resources the longer they are in use. Whether it’s a CRM or accounting application — and especially if you use an enterprise-class application like ERP or supply chain management — the size of files and databases will grow substantially over time. A network that has given users nearly instant response on inquiry and data entry screens will eventually slow. Also, as software vendors add new capabilities to their applications, the load on the network increases further. Applications can double the demands placed on the network over time.

#3. Examine Utilization

Network utilization is the ratio of current network traffic to the maximum traffic that a given link can handle without packet loss. When the volume of data on a network link approaches the capacity of that link, utilization becomes a problem. This might occur, for example, if a path between numerous workstations and a database server is overwhelmed by the amount of traffic.

A variety of tools allow you to measure utilization, and the most useful of these shows you trend lines over an extended period of time. A single snapshot that shows what’s happening now, will not give you much actionable information. You need to look at utilization of various network links over time to understand where bottlenecks exist.

Further, don’t rely on average utilization figures. You’ll want to look for peak moments when a given link reaches saturation. As you discover those peaks, finding the cause for the problem becomes manageable. Perhaps you have a user or user group that demands a great deal of bandwidth. Or, a given application may be stressing the network. Measuring utilization is the first step in solving the problem.

Conclusion

Managed Service Providers bring deep expertise to the matter of network optimization. For more details about the managed IT services Wincom offers, contact us here.

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