Modern networks are made up of a collection of routers, switches, firewalls, and other network elements. While they are all configured to maintain the best possible availability and throughput — both inside the boundaries of the internal network and across links to other networks — operations teams leverage network capacity planning to identify potential shortcomings, misconfigurations, or other parameters that could affect a network’s availability or throughput within a forecasted timeframe. From a high-level perspective, network operators engage in network capacity planning to understand some key network metrics:
By performing this type of network profiling, operators are able to understand the maximum capability of current resources and the impact of adding incremental new resources needed to serve future requirements. While capacity planning helps with the identification of new network infrastructure, it can also help to identify additional staff or resources that will manage and monitor the network.
Network operations teams often set a baseline for network performance. A key question they ask is: What is expected of the network when it is working properly? (Operating a network is a complex endeavor and, regardless of how much planning takes place, problems do occur.) Network engineers determine optimal performance thresholds, which can then be utilized by network management tools. Key metrics include:
When a threshold for a key performance metric is reached, the icon for a network element within a capacity planning tool’s interface may display as red, and depending on the severity of the event, may also issue an alert.
Key requirements for capacity planning solutions will vary to some degree based on the type of organization using it. For example, an enterprise, depending on its size, may need to understand WAN usage, ISP uplink capacity, east-west data center hotspots, and inter-data center adequacy. For ISPs, looking at network utilization is crucial to formulating business insights when connecting to other ISP networks. ISPs regardless of their network interconnection type (e.g. transit, backbone, paid peering, or free peering) all need to assess their network utilization in order to forecast business impacts. To ensure network operators can readily take action on insights from capacity planning tools, key requirements to look for in a solution include:
The business value of network capacity planning cannot be underestimated. Being able to quickly focus on network bottlenecks in a timely manner has a direct correlation to user satisfaction and optimizing network infrastructure expenditures. Kentik has the functional breadth for capturing all the necessary network telemetry in a big data repository to isolate even the most obscure capacity impacting network events — as they happen or predicted in the future. Network visibility is key to facilitating capacity planning. To see how Kentik’s capacity analytics can help your organization analyze, monitor, and adjust to network capacity patterns, read our blog post on improving capacity management, request a demo, or sign up for a free trial today.