5 Tips to Streamline Capacity Planning and Optimize Bandwidth Usage in the Enterprise
November 25, 2013

Belinda Yung-Rubke

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Today’s network managers are tasked with two conflicting business directives when it comes to network performance. The first is to ensure the delivery of an optimal end-user experience on the network, and the second is to reduce the operational costs of the network. To help meet these challenges, Fluke Networks is providing five tips to streamline capacity planning and optimize bandwidth usage in the enterprise.

With the network under more and more stress as video, VoIP, virtualization, VDI, wireless and more, all fight for bandwidth, understanding the right time and reasons to increase throughput is key.

Here are five areas to consider when tackling this challenge:

1. Understand Bandwidth Resources and Performance Tradeoffs

Bad performance does not necessarily mean that bandwidth is not sufficient. Knowing how busy links are, and for how long, is key to gauging the correlation between bandwidth and performance. Under-utilized links can drain bandwidth resources by using up valuable budget that could be allocated to other over-utilized links. Keep in mind that network bursting is normal, it just needs to be within proper thresholds.

2. Use the Right Tools for the Job

Trying to detect over-utilization of bandwidth can be difficult when the tools are not well suited to the job. Viewing a long-term trend of usage flattens out peaks of high utilization, thus hiding true problems. Peak utilization views show when links are the busiest, but do not indicate for how long. Traffic totals per-day, per-month, etc., can show general growth, but ignore the differences between different times of day. The key questions to answer are: has the link been over-utilized, for how long, and by what application and what end-user?

3. Account for Business Hours

While a network link might be busy during the night or weekend while backup and software updates are performed, it may be acceptable during the business day when staff is working. Do not let evening and night data cloud your view of utilization. Having a combination of real-time and back-in-time views allows IT to see what is happening more quickly, solve problems faster, and move on to more strategic initiatives efficiently.

4. Is Bandwidth Being Used for Business?

There are two types of traffic, business and recreational. Obviously, business has priority, so it is important to know why a busy link is busy. Is it usage of a business application? Is it the breaking news story everyone is streaming to the desktop? Even if it is a business application causing congestion, does that application really need to consume that much bandwidth? Or, is the bandwidth being used by old rogue applications that IT needs to remove from the network? (Efficient application design and WAN optimization are also examples of strategic decisions that should be considered alongside the tactical approach of bandwidth needs.)

5. Streamline the Job

With networks growing quickly, the job of understanding what links are busy, when and why, gets more complex and time consuming. The amount of time taken to perform proactive capacity planning is the main reason why the job does not get done. Do not waste time looking at links that do not require attention. Focus on those critical few links that are busiest for the most amount of time. Use customized alerting that can show when bandwidth hits 80 percent for a rolling three minutes, and be prepared to react.

Belinda Yung-Rubke is Director of Field Marketing for Fluke Networks.

Related Links:

www.flukenetworks.com

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