The ICT Network is an integral part of a company’s infrastructure and the majority of organisations rely on high Network Availability to conduct their day-to-day operations. Besides Availability, Network Quality and Performance are of due importance as they can lead to decrease in productivity if Network is not operating at optimal level. Hence in absence of good and extensive Network Monitoring, even a quality-designed Network may not give desired results in the longer run.

Network Performance Baseline
In simple words, Performance Baseline is the current state of Network when measured across different parameters or metrics. It is a collection of all such metrics being measured at regular intervals and represented as a normal Network state.

Baseline Importance
Baseline can help organisations in a number of ways. These include but not limited to:

  • Capacity planning for transmission network and equipment
  • Managing Service- and Operation-level agreements
  • Network forensic analysis and troubleshooting
  • Proactive fault management
  • Network expansion and optimisation
  • Auditing network events

Baseline Measurement
Identification of required metrics along with the measurement points is the key to baselining a network. Good baseline is not just limited to in-bound and out-bound traffic monitoring on the transmission links. There may be a lot of other parameters that are equally important.

  • Network equipment related metrics like CPU, Memory and other critical resources determine the overall health of the system.
  • Transmission links can be monitored for bandwidth utilisation, errors and packet loss on link, traffic types and point-to-point latency.
  • Internet uplink may be monitored for segregated traffic with respect to source and/or destination network. Round-trip delay to common public destinations is good measure to visualise the upstream health.
  • Services/applications (like HTTP, DNS servers) can be monitored for active service ports and average response time.
  • Other infrastructure monitoring like Host and Virtual servers in virtualised environment, SAN and NAS etc.

Network management systems are generally used to gather data at regular intervals for all identified metrics using different approaches including SNMP, Netflow, custom probes/scripts etc. Data is then represented in graphical formats as well as stored on the system.

It is crucial for Network administrators/managers to have Network Performance Baseline in place for their ICT Network to help an organisation achieve its goals.