How to Identify Network Performance Issues

Alyssa Lamberti
Alyssa Lamberti Last updated on Jul. 16, 2020

How to Identify Network Performance Issues

In Summary

Just because your network is "UP," doesn't mean it’s working well! Intermittent network problems frustrate users, affect business productivity, and are a nightmare for all IT administrators because they are the most difficult to solve. Network problems like choppy VoIP, jerky video calls, and network and application slowness issues can affect your business in drastic ways - which is why it’s important to know how to identify network issues so you can solve them quickly.

The increasing use of hosted services is bringing major changes to the architecture of networks and data flows. This is even more true with the recent arrival of SD-WAN on the market. These changes greatly increase our dependence on a high functioning network to help us ensure the maintenance of these critical applications.

There are many problems that can affect network performance, and some of them are very complex to identify and understand. That’s why it’s important to agree on the vocabulary surrounding this subject before thinking of identifying solutions.

In this article, we’re going to be defining the vocabulary surrounding network problems to teach you how to identify network issues and find solutions.

We’ll be covering:

  1. Network Issues
  2. Causes of Network Problems
  3. Where Problems Are Located and Who is Responsible
  4. The Consequences of Network Problems
  5. Network Performance Solutions

Let’s get started!

1. Network Issues

The applications that run over your network don’t all have the same performance requirements. Some performance variations can affect VoIP or video quality, but will have no effect on web browsing or email activity.

Knowing how to identify network issues begins with measuring network performance using precise network performance metrics. You’ll then need to familiarize yourself with all your application performance requirements to identify the network performance thresholds to be respected, and to ensure that these applications can work properly.

2. Causes of Network Problems

The common causes of network issues are almost always the same. For the sake of this article, we’ve compiled this list:

  • Resource Issues (High CPU usage, Congestion in the network)
  • Equipment operation (Hardware problems, Configuration issues)
  • DNS (Domain Name System) Issues
  • Defective Cables or Connectors
  • Interference in the Wireless Network

However, seeing as a failure can occur at any time, the first challenge for network administrators is to quickly identify the events that can cause breakdowns as well as the precise time of the event.

While users are usually quick enough to report problems, it’s of course ideal to intercept the problem and resolve it before it affects users.

3. Where Problems Are Located and Who is Responsible

Networks are becoming more and more complex with every technological advancement. As hosted services continue to gain popularity, applications are being hosted further and further away from users.

Events that can affect the maintenance of critical applications can occur anywhere: in an internal LAN, wired or wireless network, with the Internet or WAN provider, or in the internal network of a service provider.

The second challenge for network administrators when knowing how to identify network issues is to precisely identify:

  • Where the problem is located
  • Who is responsible for this network segment
  • What actions to take in order to find a resolution

4. The Consequences of Network Problems

The increase in the number and duration of network outages can have a detrimental effect on multiple parts of your business. The longer these problems go unnoticed, the more damage they can potentially cause.

Network issues have particular effects on:

IT Services

Some consequences for IT services include:

  • VoIP and choppy video calls
  • Slow internet performance
  • Slowdown of critical applications such as ERP, CRM, finance, and ecommerce systems.
  • Failing Citrix, RDP or Terminal Server sessions
  • Low transfer rate

Users and Clients

Some consequences for users and clients include:

  • Lost productivity
  • Frustration and disengagement
  • Bad customer experience

Business Affairs

Some consequences for your business include:

  • Lost productivity
  • Overworked IT infrastructure
  • Increased operating costs
  • Damaged reputation
  • Loss of income

The main task of an IT administrator should not simply be to put out fires, but rather to support the business in its development and day-to-day operations.

To succeed in getting out of the deep end, an IT manager must be able to prevent performance problems by detecting them as soon as they happen. Quick detection and prevention will help prevent catastrophic consequences from taking shape and avoid the time IT managers will have to spend on crisis management.

It’s therefore essential to be able to understand the consequences of network performance problems and to implement solutions to detect them.

5. Network Performance Solutions

Even the best designed networks are not immune to problems.

All IT managers generally agree on one thing. The question is not whether or not there will be network problems, but rather WHEN they will happen and what actions will be taken to fix them as soon as possible.

As mentioned earlier, knowing how to identify network issues begins with measuring network performance using precise metrics.

Several tools are available in the vault of a network administrator such as:

  • Traceroutes: to identify route, latency and packet loss between two sites.

  • Speed Tests: which allow you to validate if the bandwidth you need is readily available.

  • Prioritization and QoS: which increases network efficiency in the event of congestion and prioritizes applications more critical or sensitive to performance problems such as VoIP or video.

  • Network Equipment Monitoring solutions like Fault Monitoring that perform SNMP reading on the equipment.

The increase in performance requirements for modern networks therefore forces the use of a new range of tools: Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) solutions.

What is NPM?

Network Performance Monitoring or NPM is the end-to-end monitoring of your company's network performance in order to identify all network problems that are affecting your end-users and customers - even if those network problems may reside outside of your local network infrastructure.

Why NPM?

Network performance monitoring is your key to knowing how to identify network issues, because it identified intermittent network slowness issues that are difficult to troubleshoot otherwise!

The increasing use of hosted services is bringing major changes to the architecture of networks and data flows. The majority of network monitoring solutions were designed to monitor network performance before these changes. Which means that these centralized solutions cannot adapt well to this new decentralized reality.

A distributed network performance monitoring solution like Obkio's offers visibility that traditional systems are unable to offer.

Some of our solutions designed for decentralized infrastructures include Remote Network Performance Monitoring, VoIP Performance Monitoring, and Cloud Performance Monitoring!

What is Obkio?

Obkio is a simple Network Performance Monitoring SaaS solution for Enterprises and MSPs that allows users to continuously monitor the health of their network and core business applications to improve the end-user experience!

Deploy physical, software or public network performance monitoring Agents at strategic locations in your business’ network such as data sites, remote sites, external client sites, or public or private clouds and easily identify the causes of intermittent VoIP, video, and applications slowdown in seconds.

Try Obkio today by signing up for our free 14-day trial!