With the corporate network transforming from a simple mechanism for information transport to a powerful business tool, it is quickly becoming seen as a utility of critical importance. IT executives are being called upon to transform their organizations into utility providers, and are now expected to deliver the same dependable level of service the electric and gas companies provide. In order to achieve that level of reliability, an IT manager needs to make sure sufficient bandwidth is, and will always be available.
The first task at hand has to do with understanding the many factors which contribute to a user's overall perception of the service levels being received. With the dramatic growth of content-rich applications and Internet computing demands, users--who measure bandwidth in terms of the response times they experience--tend to perceive that there is insufficient bandwidth available to completely satisfy the needs of the business. But response times are not an accurate measurement of capacity and bandwidth. Many networks in which users experience slow response times have more than enough bandwidth; the problem may be caused by another component like a server, an application, storage device or even the user's own computer.
Bandwidth management, then, must take into account the accurate measurement of the service levels being provided, from the standpoint of the users. The enterprise network management system is effective in collecting performance data for any given device, but to make an informed decision with regards to the adequacy of service levels, the information needs to be interpreted in terms of business metrics as they are experienced by users. Calculating service levels manually is time-consuming, but there is a new generation of software tools available to help IT professionals track and assess service levels according to meaningful business metrics--and to identify whether bottlenecks are related to equipment, applications, or bandwidth.
Brian Solomon is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To see more of his articles, please visit Brian Solomon’s columnist page.
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