Monday, March 23, 2009

How To Analyze Your Voice And/Or Data Network Performance

When it comes to analyzing your voice or data network .... time and effort can easily evolve into frustration and cost. Having a good handle beforehand on what to look at (and for) ... and how to look at it ... helps. So does having preplanned data collection so that decisions can be made overtime .... or as needed in real time .... in an efficient less stressful manner.

If you are focused on IT, telecom, or ICT (information & communications technology), you probably have a fairly good grip on the physical aspects of your network. You know your sites, the components at those sites, the circuits between those sites, and the capacity of those circuits. You probably have a Visio or similar network map, and might even keep it current.

If you are a bit more sophisticated, you might know the network costs associated with each site, the primary business role of each site, and the virtual network of corporate systems. You might have available the history of problems by location, duration, cause, and impact.

Maybe its time to step up your knowledge to the next level?

Every network has a wealth of business intelligence buried within how it is used. The data is in the traffic flows. The when, what, and who of that traffic is a key part of understanding how the network relates to the business. Of course, that understanding requires more than just technical data. The "who" in technology is a source/destination pair of IP addresses and MAC addresses. Linking those to specific individuals or roles is where the intelligence is found.

An example - when it is expanded to Joe Blow, top sales rep, it becomes intelligence the sales division can use to bring other salespeople closer to the performance levels of Joe Blow.

The problem has always been one of data overload. This is why many have moved from spreadsheets to network diagrams.

I believe the next step is to integrate the network data sets with other business data sets and then apply visualization tools to these.

If you aren't familiar with these, check out some of these sites.

* Genisis is Open Source and free.

* Alphaworks is an IBM package. There is a cost for using it within a private network.

* Gapminder comes from Google. Its online and is included here as an example of visualization tools.

* Swivel is another online example. Although I believe there is a private version also.

* Bubble Chart would make an excellent graphic of how particular circuits are utilized. Each application's data over a set period would be represented by its own bubble, for example. Perhaps even subsets of applications (such as SAP terminals versus print jobs). Show the capacity of the circuit over the same time frame as a second graph, or as the boundary of the chart, and the concept of data moving through a pipe is clear to anyone looking at it.

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