What is network performance monitoring? And why does your business need it?

IT networks are the backbone of the modern business. Good network performance keeps your customer service agents connected to their cloud apps, your customers experiencing a fast, seamless service on our website and your IoT devices sending critical telemetry messages on time.

But modern networks are also complex. That complexity brings with it many opportunities for things to go wrong. To ensure good operation, we need to monitor network performance so we can identify real and potential problems, take proactive action and make better decisions.

What is network performance monitoring?

Network performance monitoring is the process of measuring and monitoring the quality of service of a network. Given the complexity of today’s networks, this is best achieved through a dedicated network performance monitoring solution.

What is a network performance monitoring solution?

Modern network performance monitoring solutions are usually cloud-based and hosted as software-as-as-service applications. This means that they can be set up and put to work quickly and without large upfront investment. 

A network performance monitoring solution will collect and analyse network data, including network traffic, bandwidth utilisation, packet loss and latency. 

Why do we need to capture network performance data?

Network performance data, such as including traffic patterns, bandwidth utilisation, packet loss and latency, helps you to identify bottlenecks and congestion and other potential problems. It can also be a good indicator of device health and security threats.

For example, if your network suddenly experiences an unusual spike in traffic, it could indicate there is an intruder in the network. By comparing historical network performance data with real-time information, your network performance monitoring solution gives you early warning of potential problems.

How do businesses benefit from network performance monitoring?

Initially, network performance monitoring data will be captured to establish the baseline performance of your network. This provides an immediate overview of:

  • the inherent design of the network and whether it is fit for purpose,
  • the performance of network equipment,
  • the performance of your service providers (which can then be compared against their SLAs).

Moving forwards, this initial network performance data will be used as a baseline for subsequent comparison and anomaly analysis against ongoing real-time network performance data.

This will help you to:

  • Investigate the cause and source of network problems quickly, understand who is responsible for fixing them, and fix them faster;
  • Identify areas of congestion and bottlenecks, so you can fix them before they become a problem; 
  • Spot unusual usage patterns, which may be an indicator of suspicious or malicious cyber activity;
  • Troubleshoot past events to understand where and when problems arose and prevent them happening again;
  • Understand network traffic and changing patterns over time so you can make network and infrastructure investments with greater clarity and improve forward planning and decision making.

Most importantly, your network administrators can take action quickly to minimise the impact of any problems on your users, your business and your profitability.

Downtime and lost productivity have an immediate business profitability, of course. They also negatively impact your employees’ experience. It’s frustrating when systems don’t work the way they should. If this becomes a continually repeated experience, it can affect employee morale. 

It can also affect your customers’ experience. If your contact centre agents are unable to deal with enquiries swiftly or effectively or your website is slow or underperforming, it results in an unsatisfactory experience for your customers and, potentially, lost revenue for your business.

What should be considered when choosing a network performance monitoring solution?

Your network performance monitoring solution should enable you to monitor network performance across all your on-premises, cloud and hybrid environments. It should provide intuitive dashboards and reports in which you can monitor performance and see alerts about potential issues or unusual utilisation patterns. These reports should include historical and real-time data to aid analysis. You may also want to consider AI and predictive capabilities for advanced threat detection and reliable forward planning.

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