Ensure Successful Network Management by Defining Metrics

By: Larry Loeb| - Leave a comment


A network management service should help organizations achieve their broader business goals, not hinder them. CIOs must be sure to incorporate network-oriented metrics when evaluating if the service is delivering what the business needs. Although these figures only provide insight into specific elements of the network, businesses can determine the overall state of the network when examining these metrics together.

Although software-defined networks may have their own specific requirements, the following technique should be applicable to any kind of network.

Examine the SLA

To act on metrics, companies must first evaluate the service-level agreement that the network management provider must sign. This step ensures that both parties have a clear understanding of what to expect in normal operations. The specific metrics used in the SLA need to be understood and agreed to by both parties.

Evaluate the Network

Companies should begin by measuring the availability of the network to determine if it’s running when it should be. While this metric may be simple to examine, it’s critical to network functionality. Network availability must be realistic for business function and routinely obtainable by the network manager.

Next, it’s important to determine the rate of network utilization expected when the network provider assumed responsibility and if the data reveals that those assumptions were correct. Measuring utilization can reveal any network degradation that’s occurring over time.

Companies should then measure latency to reveal if any delay while sending data over the network is directly affecting user experience.

Jitter is the deviation from true periodicity of a periodic signal. Determining this metric can demonstrate how video and voice services are negatively affected by an underperforming network.

Make a Change

After evaluating these metrics to define network performance, it’s time for CIOs to make any needed adjustments. The SLA is crucial to this stage: Motivating a network management company to effect change becomes much simpler if an enforcement method is already established in the SLA.

As IBM notes, network management is vital to an enterprise’s mission. Without it, the organization can’t communicate. The methods needed to assure a positive relationship with a network management service must be clear between the organization and the provider they’re using. A CIO can communicate their goals to the vendor using concrete metrics to ensure the service functions the way the enterprise needs it to.