Many of the control plane requirements are also essential to the overall functionality of the system.
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CPU is typically used by both the control plane and data plane on any network device. In capacity and performance management, you must ensure that the device and network have sufficient CPU to function at all times. Insufficient CPU can often collapse a network because inadequate resources on one device may impact the entire network.
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Insufficient CPU can also increase latency since the data must wait to be processed when there is no hardware switching without the main CPU. Insufficient backplane normally results in dropped packets, which can lead to re-transmissions and additional traffic. Memory is another resource that has data plane and control plane requirements. Memory is required for information such as routing tables, ARP tables, and other data structures.
When devices run out of memory, some operations on the device can fail. The operation could affect control plane processes or data plane processes, depending on the situation. If control plane processes fail, the entire network can degrade. For example, this can happen when extra memory is required for routing convergence. Interface and pipe sizes refer to the amount of data that can be sent simultaneously on any one connection.
This is often incorrectly referred to as the speed of a connection, but the data really doesn't travel at different speeds from one device to another. Silicon speed and hardware capability help determine the available bandwidth based on the media. In addition, software mechanisms can "throttle" data to conform to specific bandwidth allocations for a service. You typically see this in service provider networks for frame-relay or ATM that inherently have speed capabilities of 1.
When there are bandwidth limitations, data is queued in a transmit queue. A transmit queue may have different software mechanisms to prioritize data within the queue; however, when there is data in the queue, it must wait for existing data before it can forward the data out the interface. Queuing, latency, and jitter also affect performance. You can tune the transmit queue to affect performance in different ways.
For instance, if the queue is large, then the data waits longer. When queues are small, data is dropped. This is called taildrop and is acceptable for TCP applications since the data will be re-transmitted. However, voice and video don't perform well with queue drop or even significant queue latency requiring special attention to bandwidth or pipe sizes.
This can be due to CPU, memory, or buffers. Latency describes the normal processing time from the time it is received until the time the packet is forwarded. Modern devices with Digital Signal Processors to convert and compress analog voice packets may take longer, even up to 20ms. Jitter describes the inter-packet gap for streaming applications, including voice and video. If packets arrive at different times with different inter-packet gap timing, then jitter is high and voice quality degrades. Jitter is mainly a factor of queuing delay.
Speed and distance is also a factor in network performance. Data Networks have a consistent data forwarding speed based on the speed of light. This is approximately miles per millisecond. If an organization is running a client-server application internationally, then they can expect a corresponding packet-forwarding delay. Speed and distance can be a tremendous factor in application performance when applications are not optimized for network performance. Application characteristics is the last area that affects capacity and performance.
Issues such as small window sizes, application keepalives, and the amount of data sent over the network versus what is required can affect the performance of an application in many environments, especially WANs. This section discusses the five main capacity and performance management best practices in detail:. Service level management defines and regulates other required capacity and performance management processes. Network managers understand that they need capacity planning, but they face budgeting and staffing constraints that prevent a complete solution.
Service level management is a proven methodology that helps with resource issues by defining a deliverable and creating two-way accountability for a service tied to that deliverable. You can accomplish this in two ways:. Create a service level agreement between users and the network organization for a service that includes capacity and performance management. The service would include reports and recommendations to maintain service quality. However, the users must be prepared to fund the service and any required upgrades. The network organization defines their capacity and performance management service and then attempts funding for that service and upgrades on a case-by-case basis.
In any event, the network organization should start by defining a capacity planning and performance management service that includes what aspects of the service they can currently provide and what is planned in the future. A complete service would include a what-if analysis for network changes and application changes, baselining and trending for defined performance variables, exception management for defined capacity and performance variables, and QoS management.
Perform a network and application what-if analysis to determine the outcome of a planned change. Without a what-if analysis, organizations take significant risks to change success and overall network availability. In many cases, network changes have resulted in congestive collapse causing many hours of production down time. In addition, a startling amount of application introductions fail and cause impact to other users and applications.
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These failures continue in many network organizations, yet they are completely preventable with a few tools and some additional planning steps. You normally need a few new processes to perform a quality what-if analysis. The first step is to identify risk levels for all changes and to require a more in-depth what-if analysis for higher risk changes.
Risk level can be a required field for all change submissions. Higher risk level changes would then require a defined what-if analysis of the change. A network what-if analysis determines the affect of network changes on network utilization and network control-plane resource issues. An application what-if analysis would determine project application success, bandwidth requirements, and any network resources issues. The following tables are examples of risk level assignment and corresponding testing requirements:.
You can perform a network what-if analysis with modeling tools or with a lab that mimics the production environment. Modeling tools are limited by how well the application understands the device resource issues and since most network changes are new devices, the application may not understand the effect of the change.
The best method is to build some representation of the production network in a lab and to test the desired software, feature, hardware, or configuration under load by using traffic generators. Leaking routes or other control information from the production network into the lab also enhances the lab environment. Test additional resource requirements with different traffic types, including SNMP, broadcast, multicast, encrypted, or compressed traffic. With all of these different methodologies, analyze the device resource requirements during potential stress situations such as route convergence, link flapping, and device re-starts.
Resource utilization issues include normal capacity resource areas such as CPU, memory, backplane utilization, buffers, and queuing. New applications should also perform a what-if analysis to determine application success and bandwidth requirements. You normally perform this analysis in a lab environment using a protocol analyzer and a WAN delay simulator to understand the effect of distance.
You can simulate bandwidth in the lab by throttling traffic using generic traffic shaping or rate-limiting on the test router. The network administrator can work in conjunction with the application group to understand bandwidth requirements, windowing issues, and potential performance issues for the application in both LAN and WAN environments.
Perform an application what-if analysis before deploying any business application. If you do not do this, the application group blames the network for poor performance. If you can somehow require an application what-if analysis for new deployments via the change management process, you can help prevent unsuccessful deployments and better understand sudden increases in bandwidth consumption for both client-server and batch requirements.
Baselining and trending allow network administrators to plan and complete network upgrades before a capacity problem causes network down time or performance problems. Compare resource utilization during successive time periods or distill information down over time in a database and allow planners to view resource utilization parameters for the last hour, day, week, month, and year.
In either case, someone must review the information on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. The problem with baselining and trending is that it requires an overwhelming amount of information to review in large networks. Divide the trend information into groups and concentrate on high-availability or critical areas of the network, such as critical WAN sites or Data Center LANs. Reporting mechanisms can highlight areas that fall above a certain threshold for special attention.
If you implement critical availability areas first, you can significantly reduce the amount of information required for review. With all of the previous methods, you still need to review the information on a periodic basis. Baselining and trending is a proactive effort and if the organization only has resources for reactive support, individuals will not read the reports.
Many network management solutions provide information and graphs on capacity resource variables. Unfortunately, most people only use these tools for reactive support to an existing problem; this defeats the purpose of baselining and trending. In many cases, network organizations run simple scripting languages to collect capacity information. Below are some example reports that were collected via Script for link utilization, CPU utilization, and ping performance. Other resource variables that may be important to trend include memory, queue depth, broadcast volume, buffer, frame relay congestion notification, and backplane utilization.
Refer to these table for information on link utilization and CPU utilization:. Exception Management Exception management is a valuable methodology for identifying and resolving capacity and performance issues. The idea is to receive notification of capacity and performance threshold violations in order to immediately investigate and fix the problem.
For example, a network administrator might receive an alarm for high CPU on a router. The network administrator can log into the router to determine why the CPU is so high. She can then perform some remedial configuration that reduces the CPU or create an access-list preventing the traffic that causes the problem, especially if the traffic does not appear to be business-critical. Most network management tools have the capability to set thresholds and alarms on violations. The important aspect of the exception management process is to provide near real-time notification of the issue.
Otherwise, the problem may vanish before anyone noticed that notification was received. This can be done within a NOC if the organization has consistent monitoring.
Otherwise, we recommend pager notification. The following configuration example provides rising and falling threshold notification for router CPU to a log file that may be reviewed on a consistent basis. Quality of service management involves creating and monitoring specific traffic classes within the network. A traffic provides more consistent performance for specific application groups defined within traffic classes.
Traffic shaping parameters provide significant flexibility in the prioritization and traffic-shaping for specific classes of traffic. These features include capabilities such as committed access rate CAR , weighted random early detection WRED , and class based fair weighted queuing. Traffic classes are normally created based on performance SLAs for more business critical applications and specific application requirements such as voice. Business stakeholders are 3. Strategic change means new processes and skills.
Organizational design will ensure that you build the right team. Make sure you're on the same page as your CFO. Governance is a key predictor of value generated by IT. Use our 5-step process to achieve effective governance.
So why doesn't IT? Ideally, the right information should go to the right people, at the right time. Get the right data to the right people at the right time with an enabling governance structure. Cutting corners on data quality has serious bottom-line implications.
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Don't be on the wrong end of this statistic. Testing alone does not guarantee success. Quality needs to be embedded in every step of the PMLC. Establish a business-aligned plan for maintaining the most important applications in your environment. Make sure you have a program to drive benefits realization post go-live. Poor process equals poor business results. Find out how your organization compares and what actions to take next. Start the year with a realistic, achievable plan. It's time to improve both planning and execution.
On time. On budget. Within scope. High quality. Happy sponsors. Happy teams. Project management has a lot of moving parts you need to manage. Establish a plan to improve this. Organizational change management ensures successful deployment and adoption, yet few organizations make someone accountable for OCM.
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