What Real Time Bandwidth Is and Its Benefits

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Network Cable Image Source : Jonathan Briggs

Most of us understand network bandwidth monitoring as the method in which data flowing across a network is analyzed. However, many organizations have failed to appreciate the need for network bandwidth monitoring. Before looking at its benefits, it is important to understand what is driving the need for network bandwidth monitoring.

The simple fact is that each year, global IP traffic is skyrocketing. You can surely expect:

  • More video and over the top content being streamed online by employees

  • Increased internet traffic and bandwidth use in all organizations regardless of size

  • The BYOD trend has resulted in more employees using their personal hand held devices to access the internet on the enterprise network.

Since Bandwidth is paid for, it should be viewed as a resource and its use should be in accordance to the organization’s laid down internet policy. Internet speed for key organizational functions will be greatly reduced if more bandwidth is consumed for non-work related activities such as streaming online TV, watching YouTube videos and playing online games.

The solution is not simply paying for additional bandwidth as unplanned bandwidth expenses can never be viewed as a strategic and tactical solution in any organization. The draconian “no internet policy”is not always a recommended option as it may not work in the end since unlimited internet access is becoming part when undertaking key organizational functions. In addition to having an impact on employees working hours, consumption of bandwidth for non-work related activities might result in network issues, bandwidth spikes, and overhead troubleshooting for network administrators. Since you have bandwidth and employees who are using the internet, it is time you started monitoring bandwidth consumption in real time. Monitoring will enable you to know bandwidth consumption for work related activities and consumption for non-work related activities. With this knowledge, you can begin optimizing bandwidth utilization without having to buy more.

  • First, monitor network traffic and bandwidth patterns down to the interface level

  • Identify which applications ,protocol and users are consuming the most bandwidth

  • Analyze and understand the IP addresses and protocols which are using bandwidth

This processes cannot be undertaken manually as it’s not possible for one to interpret this much data. You have to look for a more effective and efficient way to understand your network traffic flow. Various network flow technologies that allow you to get bandwidth and traffic data from network devices do exist. Examples include NetFlow, Cisco®, J-Flow, Juniper®, sFlow®, Huawei Net Stream™ and IPFIX. NetFlow can provide you with data about where, when, what, who and how the network traffic is flowing. Once you understand your network’s traffic behavior, you can undertake optimization so as bandwidth usage is not affected by unproductive internet use.

  • Step1- Enable the flow technology that is available within the network devices. If you have a Cisco device, you will have to enable NetFlow.

  • Step 2- Analyze your network traffic using the NetFlow analyzer tool in terms of protocols, applications, source and destination.

  • Step 3- Get reports and statistics on the numerous key metrics for monitoring bandwidth

The biggest benefit of using such technologies by any network administrator is the simplicity in the monitoring activity, saving of time and effort that would have otherwise being spent on probing into issues and a meaningful data output which could be used to troubleshoot and diagnose bandwidth bottlenecks.

The better the optimization, the lesser the bandwidth cost, improved service quality and a better return on investments. Having a real-time bandwidth monitor software is not a luxury anymore. It’s a necessity.