Ensuring Effective Network Performance: Capacity Planning 101

Nothing is as frustrating for employees or customers as ridiculously slow access or latency during important calls. These problems result from inadequate bandwidth, and most organizations approach network capability planning by either apportioning more bandwidth than is needed or suffering from problems during high-traffic times.

Essentially, network performance is dictated by throughput and capacity. To ensure sufficient capability, businesses must first understand where the problems originate, and then develop a workable solution to mitigate them.

 Bottlenecking Issues

The enterprise technologies used to perform daily tasks siphon bandwidth depending on usage. When higher numbers of users increase traffic across the network, either through wired or wireless access, users experience lags in throughput. Some of the biggest culprits include:

  • Software Tools and Applications—Warehouse management, customer relationship management (CRM), and enterprise resource management (ERP) systems record, process, and analyze large amounts of data from a variety of sources, often in real-time.
  • Cloud Computing—Cloud storage, backup, and sharing, whether through the public or private cloud, consume high levels of bandwidth because of the large volumes of data being transferred.
  • Mobility—Mobile access is enabling improved communication and productivity for organizations, but supporting all those remote devices places a drain on network performance.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)—Enhanced mobility, better, more reliable communications, videos, and live streaming provide superior tools for work tasks, but they also require large bandwidth.

 Pinpointing Traffic and Bandwidth Requirements

Before upgrading infrastructure, companies need a visible outline of where and when traffic volumes across the network are creating problems. Simply increasing total bandwidth is cost prohibitive because organizations end up paying for more than is actually required.

To understand bandwidth needs, companies should examine these areas:

  • Core Network Traffic—Determine exactly how much bandwidth is required to perform core tasks.
  • Other Traffic—This includes internal connections, data transfers to and from cloud applications, and communication packets.
  • Source and Destination—The distance from the origin site to the destination impacts bandwidth consumption.

 Measuring for Success

Once traffic requirements are identified, organizations are in a position to apportion and assign bandwidth accordingly. The most cost-effective solution involves leveraging on-demand bandwidth, which offers the ability to curtail and increase bandwidth in relation to usage requirements and predictions.

First, determine the average rate of transfer relative to current bandwidth. Immediate upgrades will be necessary if the current megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps) are inadequate for the amount of throughput required. Then ascertain additional needs during peak times.

By developing effective capacity planning that is designed to ensure reliable performance, companies can maintain business productivity and user satisfaction.

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