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Keeping Your Network in Tune for the New Year

Admit it;

in a moment of weakness as the clock hit midnight you resolved to dig in and tune up your corporate network. Well, January flew by, so if you haven’t made good on your resolution, there’s no time like the present.

Here’s what to consider in keeping your network tuned up and healthy in 2011:

1. Know your network
Make sure you still have a clear understanding of traffic levels, packet size and traffic types. VoIP and other types of time-sensitive data can bog down the network and you need to be aware of it in order to keep things well tuned. Check your baselines (you have been archiving baseline data?) so that you can compare results over time, determine trends, and easily spot anomalies.

2. Understand the limitations of your monitoring
There are several approaches you can take, including SNMP, flow-based and packet based systems. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Not all approaches will work for everyone; pick the approach that works best for your organization. Also, you’ll need to make sure you know where you’re going to collect data and if you’re using real time or post capture analysis. The key question here: are you getting all the data that is important to you? If not, it may be time to revisit what’s most important.

3. Keep an eye out for common pitfalls
These include cabling, connectivity issues, network collisions, software problems and duplicate IP addresses. Believe it or not, cabling is still the most common problem on networks today. While network collisions are normal and expected, late collisions are problematic and should be monitored. In the end, this all comes back to connectivity and hardware problems and the need to troubleshoot down to specific end devices.

It’s best to know and understand these critical elements when evaluating your network so you can quickly diagnose an issue when something goes wrong. It’s time to make good on the 2011 resolution to tune up your network. Your network will thank you.

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