Network performance management represents a proactive solution that helps identify and reduce instances of bottlenecks or network issues that affect not only the end user, but also the internal tasks associated with maintaining business operations.
Why is network performance management (NPM) important?
Modern IT infrastructure is more complex than ever before, with a wide range of components that work individually and collectively to improve network performance, support productivity, and ensure a positive user experience. Technology stacks have increased in density locally while also expanding into third party SaaS applications that make maintaining comprehensive visibility a challenge. If any one component is suffering from performance issues, the effects can be wide-reaching and the catalyst of the resultant problems can be difficult to pinpoint across such a wide range of moving parts.
Network management involves assessing the performance metrics of each element of network infrastructure to mitigate issues related to internal workings. Real-time monitoring of performance data or the review of performance logs allows IT teams to identify the root cause of issues before they result in outages or contribute to a negative user experience.
With end-to-end visibility and actionable insights, you can proactively resolve network-based performance issues.
Even small disruptions can lead to a loss of productivity, profit, or customer satisfaction, and when the competition is a mere Google search away, it's essential that your enterprise's digital assets perform consistently and accurately.
What are the elements of network performance management (NPM)?
Network performance management involves establishing policies, workflows, and network operations to solve issues affecting network performance. Deciding upon which management protocols to set and enforce depends largely on the specific needs of your business, however, the following network performance management practices can help improve IT operations while mitigating the possibility, or effects, of performance issues.
Collect good data
Having the appropriate performance metrics to review is a critical step in effective network performance management. A complex network generates a wide range of data, and sifting through that information to identify relevant performance clues can be a challenge.
Network monitoring tools streamline the process by examining data relating to packet loss, network traffic analysis, network node outages, SNMP performance, or bandwidth usage. Relevant information is then conveyed to your team for evaluation, or analyzed by machine learning, artificial intelligence or AIOps.
Understand your metrics
With so many different components involved in keeping your network operational, network monitoring can result in a myriad of performance metrics that provide information about the health of your IT stack. Identifying the metrics that give you the most comprehensive view of your multi-layered network can increase awareness around areas of performance that experience problems more frequently. Using that data, your IT team can create a set of network management policies to mitigate issues and improve productivity and user experience.
Automated data collection
Sometimes it takes awhile to identify a pattern of performance issues. An effective network monitoring tool logs all performance issues, including relevant information such as under what circumstances they occurred. Being able to refer to a log of past concerns allows your team to assess problem areas that require more in-depth investigation or closer monitoring.
Recognizing security issues
Poor network performance is often the result of security threats such as malware, which can quickly become a disaster for both your network, and your business as a whole. The time, cost, and loss of reputation involved with a security breach can be arduous. Implement a network monitoring system capable of finding malware, unsecured network devices, and other network vulnerabilities so that your team can develop protocols to prevent and manage weak points before end users or confidential data is affected.
Network performance management vs network performance monitoring
The similarity between the terms "network performance management" and "network performance monitoring" makes it easy to want to use them interchangeably, however, although these concepts are related, they are not identical in terms of purpose or intent.
Network performance monitoring is a part of network performance management, and involves the process of collecting, measuring, and diagnosing the metrics of each component of a network. Monitoring requires watching and reviewing.
Management is what happens once an assessment of the collected information is made; it's a set of policies, procedures, work flows, and responsibilities assigned to improve or maintain optimal performance. Network performance monitoring is watching and collecting, and network performance management is making decisions based upon the discoveries gained through review.
Effective network performance management will always involve network performance monitoring. Identifying the root cause of issues is crucial to mitigating their effects and preventing future events. Both concepts work synergistically, but each employs its own set of techniques which result in unique outcomes.