Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Are you ready to put on your detective hat and become a master network sleuth? We rely on our network to be the backbone of our businesses. From your Internet, to your VPN, to running VoIP and Unified Communication applications (like Zoom), networks have large responsibilities. But how can you know if your network is performing as it should be? That’s when you perform a network assessment.
Performing a network assessment may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, you can uncover hidden weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your network infrastructure like a seasoned detective.
In this blog post, we'll show you how to perform a network assessment like a network detective, from mapping out your network topology to identifying potential security threats. So grab your magnifying glass and let's get started!
A IT network assessment is an in-depth network infrastructure analysis to collect and analyze comprehensive data about your network’s health, including current network issues, any signs of network performance degradation, and places for improvement or network optimization. The purpose of a network assessment is to identify any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the network, as well as to evaluate its capacity, security, and overall health.
Network Assessments are an essential risk management tool and should be performed to qualify your network for a new service deployment or migration such as:
- Migration from on-premise VoIP PBX to hosted VoIP
- Migration from VoIP to Microsoft Teams or other UC platforms
- Migrating from an MPLS network to an SD-WAN network
- Migrating from an on-premise ERP to a cloud-based ERP
- Or any other on-premise to cloud migrations
Looking to solve your network issues and perform a network assessment to get complete visibility? Unlock valuable insights into your network's performance with Obkio's end-to-end network performance monitoring solution today. Don't let any missing pieces hold you back - start your free trial now and see the full picture of your network's performance.
- 14-day free trial of all premium features
- Deploy in just 10 minutes
- Monitor performance in all key network locations
- Measure real-time network metrics
- Identify and troubleshoot live network problems
Network performance is a key compoment to ensuring that a business' core applications and services and functioning at peak performance and employees can work at maximum efficiency. Large enterprise networks have so many moving parts, so it's important to check in to ensure everything is working as it should be.
When it's not, that's when the real detective work comes in: The Network Assessment.
Here are some of the benefits of a network assessment:
- Identify Network Vulnerabilities: A network assessment can help to identify security weaknesses or vulnerabilities in your network that can be exploited by cybercriminals. This can help you to take steps to address these vulnerabilities and prevent cyber attacks.
- Improve Network Performance: A network assessment can help to identify bottlenecks and other performance issues in your network. By identifying these issues, you can take steps to improve network performance, such as upgrading hardware or software, reconfiguring the network, or optimizing network settings.
- Optimize Network Resources: A network assessment can help to identify underutilized or overutilized network resources, such as servers, storage devices, and network bandwidth. By optimizing the use of these resources, you can improve network performance and reduce costs.
- Plan for Network Upgrades: A network assessment can help you to plan for future network upgrades and expansions. By identifying current network capacity and usage patterns, you can anticipate future needs and plan for upgrades and expansions accordingly.
- Ensure Compliance: A network assessment can help to ensure that your network infrastructure meets regulatory compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, or GDPR. By identifying compliance gaps, you can take steps to address these gaps and avoid costly fines and penalties.
Overall, a network assessment can provide valuable insights into the performance, security, and compliance of your network infrastructure, allowing you to optimize network resources, improve performance, and mitigate security risks.
During a network assessment, a variety of tools and techniques may be used to gather information about the network, including:
- Network Topology Mapping: This involves mapping out the network to identify all the devices and connections between them.
- Traffic Analysis This involves monitoring network traffic to identify the type and amount of traffic flowing through the network, as well as any performance issues.
- Vulnerability Scanning: Yhis involves using tools to scan the network for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers or malicious software.
- Performance Testing This involves network testing the network's performance by measuring factors such as bandwidth, latency, and throughput.
- Security Testing This involves testing the network's security by attempting to hack into the network or exploiting known vulnerabilities.
Once the network assessment is complete, a report is generated that summarizes the findings and provides recommendations for addressing any issues or weaknesses that were identified. The report may include information on how to optimize network performance, improve security, and increase the network's capacity to handle future growth.
Trying to perform a network infrastructure assessment without a tool to help can be time consuming, and frankly can’t give you the same level of detail. So you need the help of a Network Detective - which we call a Network Performance Monitoring Tool.
The best network assessment tool is Obkio Network Performance Monitoring. Obkio perform tests from all ends of your network to pinpoint performance issues or identify any weaknesses that may cause problems in the future.
- Network Monitoring Agents are deployed at key network locations
- Obkio sends and monitors synthetic data packets through your network every 500ms
- Obkio's Agents collect valuable data about your network health
Use Obkio’s free trial to perform a free network assessment (POC) to quickly determine if your network is causing problems, and gather information to help you troubleshoot.
You may perform a network assessment for a variety of reasons, so it’s important to consider your objectives to know what you expect from the results.
- Why do you want to perform a network assessment?
- Are you looking to identify intermittent network problems that are impacting your network?
- Are you looking to optimize network performance?
- Are you preparing your network for a new service deployment or migration?
- Are you performing an overall health check to assess the status of your network and make proactive decisions before anything goes wrong?
Learn how to monitor SD-WAN migrations with Network Monitoring for complete visibility over your SD-WAN service, before, after & during migrations.Learn more
To assess and compare network performance data over time, you must first measure key network metrics associated with network performance and collect a history of the data you’ve measured.
Once you’ve set up your Obkio Monitoring Agents, they will start measuring key network metrics like:
- Packet Loss
- Throughput & Bandwdith
- VoIP Quality And displaying them on Obkio’s Network Response Time Graph.
Measuring these network metrics allows you to quickly understand and identify any performance issues in your network, which is one of the most important objectives of performing a network assessment.
Obkio provides metric updates every minute so you can get real-time metric measurements. You can also further drill-down to identify exactly what and where is causing network problems.
When performing a network assessment, you need to analyze every end of your network - that include network devices. The Network Device Monitoring feature inside of Obkio’s Network Monitoring Software using SNMP monitoring is then a key tool for that.
Monitor network devices such as Routers, Switches, Firewalls, SD-WAN Edge Devices, and more to identify any problems that may be affecting your network performance such as:
- CPU Usage
- Bandwidth Interface Errors
- Interface Errors
- Device Availability
- CRC Errors
- Interface Duplex
This way, your IT team can quickly detect the short bursts of traffic, high CPU usage, bandwidth congestion or network congestion that affect network performance and pinpoint the root cause of the performance issue.
Analyzing historical performance data is key to understanding how your network is actually performing. To get an accurate network assessment, it’s important to analyze performance data over time to catch intermittent issues.
That’s why Obkio’s solution also measures and collects historical network performance data, so you can analyze, compare, and troubleshoot performance from the past.
Analyzing historical data allows you to go back in time to identify and troubleshoot intermittent network problems that may look like they disappeared.
Obkio will provide you with all the data you need to properly assess your network performance. You can even create your own dashboard with a summary of your network metric measurements, the results of speed tests, and a detailed analysis of any network issues that may have been discovered.
You can identify:
- What the problem is
- Where the problem is located
- What caused the problem
- When the problem happened
- Who is responsible for the network segment
Identifying network problems should be a key objective when performing a network assessment. Network problems, even intermittent ones, can frustrate users, affect your business operations, and cause bigger headaches in the future.
To help you really identify network problems, Obkio uses aggregation to show you the worst metric measurements in order to highlight network issues, where they’re located and what’s causing them.
For example, when testing packet loss, the packet loss displayed over an aggregated period of 1h is the worst packet loss of all the small 1-min periods in the hour.
This is key because only showing you the average amount of packet loss on your network may hide intermittent network issues.
If you measure the average packet loss every 4 hours, the average may be good, but you can have 80% during a few minutes - which signals a big problem.
Learn how to identify network issues by looking at common problems, causes, consequences and solutions.Learn more
With all this data you’ve collected from Obkio’s app, you can then finish off your Network Assessment with your Network Performance Reports. The reports will provide you with a executive summary of your network performance health, and any network issues that were identified.
- Get Digestible Data: The network reporting allows you to collect and analyze specific network performance data in an easily digestible and shareable format.
- Share Network Data Internally: Obkio’s network performance reports can be used and shared internally to gain important, actionable insights with your team and make quick decisions after your network assessment.
- Share Network Data Externally: When you’re trying to resolve a network problem with your Service Provider, it’s important to provide them with as much information as possible, so they can quickly escalate your case past Level 1 Support. Use and generate reports to share with your Service Provider when you open a support ticket.
- Make Faster Decisions: Using a network performance report, you can quickly make informed decisions about your network’s optimization and health based on both current and historical network performance data and metrics.
- Proactively Optimize Network Performance: By examining network reports and viewing capacity usage trends, you may be able to forecast, detect, diagnose, and troubleshoot network issues before complete network outages occur.
- Monitor SLA Agreements: Network performance reporting is also critical for monitoring the compliance with SLAs or service-level agreements. Gather and view the information to prove that SLAs are being met, or to prove to your Service Provider that they’re not complying with your service-level agreement.
Once you’ve performed your network assessment and identified network problems, you need to troubleshoot network issues and optimize network performance.
A great network monitoring tool will allow you to collect the data you need for network troubleshootingnetwork-performance-monitoring-network-troubleshooting/) with your IT or network team, or share the data with your Service Provider for faster troubleshooting.
When troubleshooting network problems, several tools are available to help:
- Traceroutes: to identify route, latency and packet loss between two sites and detect exactly where and when network problems happened. You can also view traceroute results with Obkio Vision Visual Traceroute tool and share traceroute results with your Service Provider to help them troubleshoot.
- Network Device Monitoring: to get detailed information about the health of network devices such as firewalls, routers, switches and wifi access points. It can also help you identify if network problems are located in your LAN, on your Firewall or in your Internet Service Provider’s network.
- 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 network congestion and prioritizes applications more critical or sensitive to performance problems such as VoIP or video.
Learn how to troubleshoot network issues by identifying where, what, why network problems occur with Network Troubleshooting tools.Learn more
Congrats! You've completed your network assessment - but network optmization doesn't end there. A Network Detective's work is never done!
The key to getting the most out of a network assessment is to take action on the findings and recommendations, and to regularly review and update your network to keep pace with changing business needs and security threats.
After a network assessment, there are several steps you can take to act on the findings and improve your network:
- Keep Monitoring Network Performance: While monitoring network performance is a key part of assessing the current health of your network and identifying current issues, it's also important for ensuring that your network performance is always at it's best. After your network assessment, keep Obkio as your permanent Network Monitoring Detective to proactively identify network problems and continue to find ways to optimize network performance.
- Prioritize Recommendations: Review the recommendations and findings from the network assessment and prioritize them based on their importance and potential impact on your network. Some recommendations may be critical and require immediate attention, while others may be lower priority.
- Develop an Action Plan: Develop an action plan that outlines the steps you need to take to address the recommendations from the network assessment. The action plan should include timelines, responsible parties, and specific tasks that need to be completed.
- Implement Changes: Implement the changes recommended in the network assessment action plan. This may involve upgrading hardware or software, reconfiguring the network, or changing security settings. Be sure to document any changes made to the network for future reference.
- Test the Network: After implementing changes, test the network to ensure that the changes have been effective and have not introduced any new problems or vulnerabilities.
- Schedule Follow-Up Assessments: Schedule follow-up network assessments to monitor the effectiveness of the changes made and to identify any new issues that may have arisen.
- Maintain Network Security: Regularly review and update your network security policies and procedures to ensure that your network remains secure and compliant with regulatory requirements.
At this point, you should have a pretty good understanding of what is going on in your network. Performing a network assessment is like being a network detective, but instead of a magnifying glass, you use advanced network performance monioring tools to uncover hidden issues and vulnerabilities.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can become a network detective yourself and ensure that your network is secure, optimized, and running smoothly.
You should have:
- A continuous network monitoring solution
- Measurements of key network metrics
- Historical performance data
- Identification of issues in your network (you can even set up alerts for those)
- Tools to help you troubleshoot
So, put on your detective hat and start your network assessment today! Get started with Obkio's Free Trial!
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