10 Most Asked Network Performance Questions

Alyssa Lamberti
Alyssa Lamberti Jun. 1, 2020

10 Most Asked Network Performance Questions

In Summary

From speaking with IT professionals, clients, and employees from other network-reliant departments, our team has put together a list of the 10 most asked network performance questions to give you a basic understanding of network performance.

Here is an overview of the questions we’ll be covering in this article:

1. What is Network Performance?
2. Why Should I Monitor Network Performance?
3. How do I Measure Network Performance?
4. What are Network Performance Metrics?
5. What is a Network Performance Baseline?
6. Why is Distributed Network Monitoring Important?
7. What is User Quality of Experience (QoE)?
8. I Already Monitor my Firewall, Am I All Covered?
9. I Have QoS Enabled - Is That Enough?
10. Why Should I Care About My ISP’s Performance?

With many businesses booming, and remote work on the rise, monitoring your business’ network performance has become more important than ever. Whether you’re working from home, from your business’ head office, or a secondary data center, you want to make sure that your network is performing at its highest level so you can perform at your highest level too.

With years of experience working in the world of network performance to develop our own Network Performance Monitoring solution, our pros have seen it all. Working with different businesses over the years, we often get asked many of the same questions.

So we put together a list of the 10 most asked network performance questions that we’ve come across while looking into network health. In this list, we give you a quick overview of some of the basics. But make sure to follow us on social media LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter, to see more upcoming articles, covering each of these topics more in depth!

1. What is Network Performance?

Network performance refers to the analysis and review of collective network metrics to define the quality of services offered by the underlying network, primarily measured from an end-user perspective.

More simply put, network performance refers to measures of service quality of a network, as seen by the customer or end-user.

Three important things to remember are that:

  1. Network Performance is something that can be measured. It’s important to measure good performance versus bad performance using metrics.

  2. Network Quality refers to the quality of the network connection and is based on factors like: is the connection stable and fast or, slow, laggy, etc?

  3. The End-User Perspective is what defines good or bad performance. Good network performance is essentially the network’s ability to perform to the user’s expectations.

Check out our blog post to learn about the difference between Fault Monitoring and Performance Monitoring!

Fault Monitoring vs Performance Monitoring

2. Why Should I Monitor Network Performance?

Many people who are new to network performance often wonder how important it really is to continuously monitor network performance. Networks are often the backbone of businesses, so when they don’t perform to the best of their capabilities, business may suffer as a result.

For network administrators, IT specialists, directors of operation, and any executives, this is certainly something they’d rather avoid.

One of the best ways to avoid business-impacting issues is to see them coming and fix them before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your business.

In our blog post on the Top 7 Reasons Why You Should Monitor Network Performance, we talk about the most important reasons in depth - so check it out after this article to get a detailed explanation. For now, we’ll give you the quick explanation.

  1. Find & Fix Network Issues: Monitoring network performance helps you quickly and easily pinpoint the location of a problem. Sometimes the network is at fault, but other times an issue can be due to other surrounding factors or applications.

  2. Detect Network Issues Before Users Do: A continuous network performance monitoring solution can also help you identify, locate, and solve issues before they start affecting end-users. So you can ensure that you’re always providing your end-users with the best user experience possible.

  3. Troubleshoot Network Slowdowns: Performance monitoring lets you easily troubleshoot network slowdowns and not just hard failures. Any performance degradation can be the sign of an upcoming, much larger issue - so it’s important to find and fix slowdowns before your users start experiencing them too.

  4. Monitor Remote Sites: Performance monitoring helps you monitor remote sites without requiring local IT resources. With the rise of work from home and remote offices, it’s important to make sure your network is working efficiently, so your employees can too. A remote network monitoring solution will help you monitor your network, even across multiple remote locations.

  5. Historical Data & Performance Baseline: Network monitoring provides data that can be used in numerous ways to improve your networking environment and its operation. Historical data helps you establish a baseline network performance to easily compare ideal performance with below average. It also lets you go back to identify issues that may have happened in the past.

  6. Transition to the Cloud: The transition to cloud-based services has led businesses to leave a centralized model and switch to a more distributed architecture. A distributed performance monitoring solution, which can monitor your network’s performance from a user perspective and from every possible angle, can help you transition to the cloud with full visibility.

  7. Monitor Undetectable Parameters: Network performance monitoring will often allow you to identify network issues that more traditional monitoring tools may be overlooking. They do so by simulating real usage scenarios - kind of like having IT staff running tests from every angle!

Top 7 Reasons Why You Should Monitor Network Performance.

3. How do I Measure Network Performance?

Another common network performance question is about whether network performance can actually be measured. There are many different ways to measure network performance, since each network is different in nature and design. Performance can also be modeled and simulated instead of measured.

Let’s break it down:

Network Performance Monitoring Agents

A network performance monitoring software, like Obkio, measures performance using network performance monitoring Agents. Obkio’s solution consists of deploying hardware or software network performance monitoring Agents at strategic locations in a company's offices or network destinations such as data sites, remote sites, external client sites, or public or private clouds.

Once agents are deployed, they exchange synthetic traffic between each other every 500 ms intervals to continuously test and monitor network performance. If there are any slowdowns, data losses, or connection problems - your software will alert you immediately.

Network Performance Metrics

A network performance monitor will also continuously test and measure different operating parameters based on a variety of different network performance metrics, such as latency, jitter, packet loss, and more (we cover these in the next questions). This establishes a performance baseline based on the cumulative results of those metrics.

The qualitative and quantitative aspects of a network need to be captured in each measurement procedure to create a network’s baseline performance and find its limits, so you can easily identify good and bad performance in the future.

End-User Perspective

Another important thing to remember is to always measure network performance from the end-user perspective. The end-user is the one that needs the network to perform. Good network performance is based on whether it meets the user’s expectations.

When using a network performance monitoring software, you can install network monitoring Agents at different points within the network architecture for complete end-to-end performance monitoring. In some cases, the Agent is installed next to the firewall to monitor ISP performance (WAN) and in other cases at the far-end of the LAN network.

4. What are Network Performance Metrics?

As I mentioned in the question above, your network performance metrics are what you use to measure your overall network performance.

When it comes to how to measure network performance, it’s important to know which network performance metrics you need to examine. Depending on the specific issues that affect your network, not every metric is going to be important for you to look at. But there are some metrics that are essential for any businesses to consider, such as:

  1. Latency
  2. Jitter
  3. Packet Loss
  4. Throughput
  5. Packet Duplication & Packet Reordering

Check out our blog post on How to measure network performance for a full description of each performance metric!

5. What is a Network Performance Baseline?

One of the first steps for anyone looking to monitor their network’s health is to establish a baseline for their network’s performance. A baseline provides you with an idea of how your network typically behaves, and the level it typically performs at, which is useful for helping you determine when your network is under-performing.

Your business should establish a baseline after setting up a network, and then again after installing new hardware. This way, your business will always know when performance is dipping below expected levels.

A performance monitoring tool can collect historical data for you, to create a performance baseline and give you access to a comparison point. A network performance software can also automatically and continuously compare the current data to the historical one and raise an alert as soon as performance starts to degrade.

6. Why is Distributed Network Monitoring Important?

Nowadays, companies are embracing flexibility. Many businesses are turning to remote offices, storing their data in the Cloud, and ditching centralized data infrastructures. With distributed architectures becoming the new standard, it’s important to have a distributed monitoring solution that can keep up.

Distributed network monitoring is a monitoring strategy that uses information provided by multiple network monitoring Agents, about a specific monitored object, or target within a network, in order to determine the performance status of the target independently from conditions that may affect the other Agents.

This strategy makes it easy to assess the performance of separate applications, network devices, and different ends of your network (from WAN to LAN), and whether it is a network or application issue.

As mentioned in question 2, a distributed performance monitoring solution monitors your network’s performance from a user’s perspective and from every possible angle to help you transition to a decentralized cloud-based infrastructure with full visibility.

Check out more network monitoring use cases to learn when you should be using a network performance monitoring software!

top 3 network performance monitoring use cases

7. What is User Quality of Experience (QoE)?

Quality of Experience (QoE) is a metric that allows you to measure performance from the end-user perspective and gain a better understanding of human quality metrics.

In their white paper on the definitions of Quality of Experience, QUALINET (The European Network on Quality of Experience in Multimedia Systems and Services), describes QoE as:

“The degree of delight or annoyance of the user of an application or service. It results from the fulfillment of his or her expectations with respect to the utility and / or enjoyment of the application or service in the light of the user’s personality and current state.”

It allows you to measure the user’s perception of the effectiveness and quality of a system or service to essentially give you a performance standard. In fact, users base their opinions about the network exclusively on their perception of QoE.

Measuring QoE is a culmination of network performance metrics (as discussed in question 4), as well as the ability of the network to meet the user’s expectations.

Other metrics you can use to measure QOE include:

  • MOS Score: A metric created by the ITU, a United Nations agency, to be measured and understood by all. The MOS score was originally developed for traditional voice calls but has been adapted to Voice over IP (VoIP) in the ITU-T PESQ P.862. You can learn more about MOS score in our article on "Measuring VoIP Call Quality with MOS."

  • VoIP Quality: VoIP quality refers to the quality of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet

8. I Already Monitor my Firewall, Am I All Covered?

Some people may be tempted to think that if you have a core part of your network being monitored, that you’re basically covered. In reality, that just isn’t the case.

In a game of football you can’t just keep your eye on the touchdown and go for it. If you don’t keep your eye on everyone else around you, you may very well get tackled from the side and never have seen it coming.

Just like with network monitoring, if you just monitor your firewall, you’re going to miss a lot of things.

True network performance monitoring requires complete, continuous monitoring from every angle of your network, from the WAN to the LAN. It is of course important to monitor your firewall, but sometimes you may think a problem is happening within your firewall, but it may actually be caused by something else in your network that is affecting your firewall.

End-to-end performance monitoring stops you from having to play the guessing game of “is this the problem or is it something else?” A network performance monitoring software, like Obkio, will automatically notify you as soon as a problem occurs - with details about where it happened and when it happened.

In the long-term, and even in your everyday life, an end-to-end solution will always give you the most visibility and accuracy and will save you countless hours that you may have spent playing a network guessing game.

9. I Have QoS Enabled - Is That Enough?

In recent years, IP networks have increasingly been used to transport various types of applications. Applications such as Voice over IP (VoIP), Video Conferencing (ex: GotoMeeting, Zoom, Webex), Unified Communications (ex: Skype for Business) and Collaboration (ex: Microsoft Teams) are a lot more sensitive to network performance and quality.

That’s why many network engineers chose to implement QoS Quality of Service to prioritize certain traffic on the network in order to reduce latency, jitter and packet loss.

In case of a network congestion, this ensures that performance sensitive applications are always running without degradation and that only the less critical applications (such as web browsing) are impacted. That’s why QoS is generally implemented for companies with a large network, who operate a large number of sites and applications.

While having QoS enabled is great, the problem is that it’s rarely tested and generally can’t react that way we need it to. QoS configuration requires a big money and time investment, but it's a necessary effort because critical applications such as VoIP need to work 100% of the time.

Once QoS is implemented, how can you make sure that it's working properly? How can you ensure that the initial setup is still working after a few months or years)? Well, you need a good network performance monitoring solution.

With Obkio’s network monitoring solution, customers deploy some network monitoring Agents and can configure a Network Monitoring Template to create network performance monitoring sessions for QoS. That way you can actually monitor and leverage your QoS results to bring your users the best experience possible.

You can learn more about this process in our blog post on QoS Monitoring with Obkio.

QoS Monitoring wity DSCP Feature

10. Why Should I Care About My ISP’s Performance?

The final question in this list has to do with ISP performance, and why it should matter in relation to network performance.

Your ISP or Internet service provider is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet - so it’s detrimentally important to your organization. As for why you should care about its performance, in short, if you don’t, no one will.

Most ISPs only provide metrics to monitor the backbone or the network core. Which means that they don’t monitor all local loops, nor do they monitor performance to identify when there’s a performance issue. That means that when there is a problem, it’s hard to know when to react, and how to treat the problem.

With ISPs playing such a big part in a company’s ability to perform, it’s important for you to take this into your own hands and start monitoring ISP performance. Luckily, a network performance monitoring solution can do this for you.

Monitoring your ISP performance will allow you to be notified as soon as a problem occurs, so you can treat it before it affects your business in any big way. A network performance monitoring solution will also be able to identify exactly where the problem persists, so you can quickly decide who to put on the job, and where they need to focus their efforts.

Creating a support case any time you have an internet problem can be long and tiresome. If you don’t know what the problem is, you might be waiting days to get an answer from the support team on the lines of “have you tried restarting your computer?”

If you’re monitoring performance yourself, then you can actually solve a problem, instead of working around it. And with more logs and data provided to you from your monitoring solution, you can actually escalate a support case way faster to people that can fix the issues you’ve identified. Because unfortunately, rebooting your computer doesn’t fix everything.

Have More Network Performance Monitoring Questions?

Now that we’ve run you through some of the basic network performance monitoring questions that we get regularly, are there any others that you’d like answered?

Since this is the first article in this series, we wanted to cover some of the basics. So stay tuned for more blog posts covering an array of different network performance monitoring topics!

If you have any questions you want answered asap, contact one of our network performance experts with any questions or comments you may have!

Contact us here or send us an email to: hello@obkio.com

Try Network Performance Monitoring for Free!

Monitoring network performance is something that has to be done thoroughly and consistently in order to give you the most accurate performance metrics. Luckily there’s software out there to do it all for you, so you don’t have to.

Try your hand at network performance with a free trial of Obkio’s network performance monitoring software!

Obkio is a simple network performance monitoring solution that allows users to continuously monitor the health of their network and core business applications to improve the end-user experience.

Get a free trial of Obkio’s Network Performance Monitoring Solution today! Just sign up, install the software using our installation tutorial, and see how your network is performing.

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