Network Performance Management

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Network performance management isn’t all that different from regular performance management. In either case, the purpose is not just to make things run well, but also to satisfy the business’s objectives. If you don’t understand what your enterprise’s needs are, then it goes without saying that the network you design and implement — regardless of its technical sophistication — probably won’t meet the needs of your organization.

Effective performance management flows from three pillars, or what I call the Triad A’s (patent pending!):

  • Alignment: The network must line up with the organization in terms of size, scale, cost, complexity and operational needs.
  • Availability: Downtime for the network must be as brief and infrequent as possible.
  • Accessibility: The network should be as user-friendly and effortless as possible for employees.Together, all of these factors combine to make for a high-performance network. But how do you ensure all of these requisites are met?

    For one thing, networking professionals should work closely with business leaders to determine what the organizational goals are and then devise a concept of operations. The point is to codify the network characteristics that meet the needs of various business units and end users. The tricky part is defining the purposes and qualities of the network closely enough to establish a clear plan, yet leave the language vague enough to retain some flexibility in development, roll out and maintenance.

    Also, some baselines for network performance should be set in terms of overall availability and accessibility and other peripheral factors. Here, a reliable system of monitoring and measuring is crucial. Assess the efficacy of your network performance management strategy with metrics around end-user complaints and compliments, downtime, security breaches and so forth. If you’re implanting a network, be sure to track expenditures and work accomplished against deadlines.

    Once metrics have been compiled, networking personnel should periodically meet to go over reports on these statistics. The numbers can be used to identify successes and problems, and these professionals should brainstorm solutions to those problems. Additionally, a platform for constant communication and collaboration among networking staff should be put into place so that they can discuss all of the issues with the network in real time.

    Finally, be sure that your overall network performance management plan takes as long and broad a view as possible. Study the industry your organization is in and the companies it competes against. Carefully examine the technology market to ensure your network won’t be doomed to obsolescence in a couple of years. Take a close look at your enterprise’s business plan and workflows, and make certain that these won’t change drastically and leave your network in the dust. Remember always that the network should sustain the business, regardless of what direction it goes in. If your network isn’t supporting organizational performance, then you need a new performance management strategy.

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