Guide to network performance management

This guide introduces you to network management best practices and pitfalls to avoid, and provides troubleshooting help and advice for monitoring and maintaining your network for best performance.

This guide introduces you to the best performance management practices and pitfalls to avoid, and provides troubleshooting help and advice for monitoring and maintaining your network. You'll find articles, tutorials, tips, tools, white papers, expert advice and more to pump up your network monitoring and diagnostic know-how quickly. Drop me an e-mail to let me know what other learning guides you'd like to see on
-- Kara Gattine, Associate Editor

The Network Life Cycle by Loki Jorgenson

The Network Life Cycle defines a range of needs that require a variety of methodologies and tools for network Monitoring, Measurement, Assessment and Diagnosis (MMAD). Each stage of the NLC has its own requirements that can typically be met with a judicious selection of tools and assessment solutions. This guide provides some of the underpinnings of a successful NLC. 

Each stage of the typical Network Life Cycle requires some degree of attention with regards to MMAD. In fact, the degree to which each stage is properly carried out can define the likelihood of success of subsequent stages.

Network documentation

In order to respond to network incidents you will need to have thorough records. These resources will help.

  • Network analysis worksheet
  • Build your network utilization history
  • Building an incident report
  • Conducting a network audit
  • Network diagrams, part 1
  • Network diagrams, part 2
  • Network diagrams samples, part 3

Network monitoring

Keeping a close eye on your network performance and throughput is critical. But as your network grows and becomes more complicated, monitoring it becomes all the more complex. Here's some help.

  • Best practices for network monitoring
  • Active probing technology to monitor network environments
  • Listing enterprise network monitoring requirements
  • What should I be monitoring and at what layer
  • Checking for high-network utilization on a switched network
  • Looking for trouble: ICMP and IP statistics to watch
  • Ports to watch
  • Who and how long? - Monitoring network usage
  • Using a network sniffer
  • Network auditing with dsniff 2.3
  • Etherpeek NX: Managing traffic in real time
  • Log monitoring with swatch

Network measurement

Measuring performance (not just availability) is essential. Use these resources as a starting point.

  • What Ping doesn't tell you
  • Analyzing your network: Statistical monitoring vs. real-time performance
  • Standardizing performance measurement procedures
  • Measuring utilization
  • Measurement tools
  • Testing methodology
  • Testing for packet loss
  • Best practices for end-to-end testing
  • Network fault analysis: Putting the guru in the analyzer
  • Interpreting bandwidth utilization
  • Bandwidth is a misnomer

Network troubleshooting

Troubleshooting your network is a big part of a network manager's job. It's also one of the most complex parts. These resources can help you with the many options and all those details.

  • Network management troubleshooting
  • Bottom up approach to network troubleshooting
  • Top down approach to network troubleshooting
  • LAN management and troubleshooting
  • Crossing the performance wizard gap
  • Logical Fault Isolation in six steps
  • Diagnosing packet loss
  • Numbers lie: Your NIC could be killing your network performance
  • Performance command line utilities
  • Performance variances


These links round out our coverage on performance, measurement, assessment and diagnosis.

Special features

  • Article: It's the application stupid!
  • Article: Identifying network misuse

With a Ph.D. in computational physics from McGill University, Loki Jorgenson has been active in scientific computation, physics and mathematics, visualization, and simulation for over 20 years. He has published in areas as diverse as philosophy, graphics, educational technologies, statistical mechanics, logic and number theory. Loki is an Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at Simon Fraser University, where he co-founded the Center for Experimental and Constructive Mathematics. He has directed academic research in numerous network-centric projects from high performance computing to telelearning. At Apparent Networks, Loki is responsible for leading their efforts in critical research areas such as high performance applications, wireless and VoIP, expert systems, and intelligent networks in collaboration with international thought leaders and as a corporate member of Internet2.

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