Dr Steve Turner, VP of IT Optimisation at leading independent IT Optimisation Consultancy Intergence, has warned that solely blaming the network for poor application performance can run the risk of overlooking many other issues.
When application performance degrades, both users and management can be quick to blame the network, but often there are other factors impairing performance. The important thing is to detect these problems as quickly as possible in order to troubleshoot them.
“Before any intelligent techniques can be used to optimise application performance, the key factor in identifying how to improve performance is to first understand the application usage profile of the network and their current performance.
“Performance should be the baseline prior to any infrastructure upgrades. Traffic across the network and application performance should be recorded and analysed to create an understanding of the current performance profile. It should then be monitored to ensure performance does not degrade over time. Examples of this analysis can include: How much bandwidth does a particular application use? Is the WAN link suffering congestion? What is the latency and jitter across the network for specific application?
“Per application, Service Level Objectives should be defined to track application performance over time and alert managers when performance degrades or be used to protect and prioritise business critical applications.
“Some applications are more ‘greedy’ with regards to bandwidth consumption than others. For example, a voice session may only consume 84Kbps of bandwidth, yet a file transfer will consume as much as physically possible without any controls in place, and this can impact on the performance of other more ‘sensitive’ applications.
“Some applications are more ‘sensitive’ than others; whilst file transfers can cope with high latency / jitter and even packet loss, real time applications such as voice and video cannot, and the user experience can become very poor. To address this, business critical applications should be protected and prioritised from non-critical applications through optimisation techniques such as WAN Governance.
“High latency, high bandwidth links can also impact the performance of applications, particularly those which rely on the TCP protocol to acknowledge packet receipt before sending the next piece of data. WAN Acceleration (or optimisation) can be used to minimise the ‘chatty’ nature of many TCP applications, where there is a lot of interaction between the client and server. These include file transfer applications which will aim to effectively ‘fill the pipe’ and send as much data across the WAN as is possible. Further techniques can be used to compress and de-duplicate data so that only unique data is transferred to the remote host, reducing the amount of data needing to be sent and effectively increasing performance.
“Organisations who have only employed monitoring through visualisation have, in many cases, been able not only to improve their application performance, but also reduce their spend on network upgrades. This is because they can restrict or remove non-business activity either through user education or policy enforcement.
Organisations, who move to using optimisation techniques such as WAN Governance and Acceleration, can achieve great gains in improving the performance of business critical applications, whilst reducing bandwidth consumption and increasing throughput. Optimisation, such as that used by Intergence, can be used to delay or negate the need to upgrade the network, often producing both a rapid return on investment and improvement on end user experience.
About Dr Steven Turner
Steven Turner is the VP of IT Optimisation at Intergence. He specialises in Network Optimisation and has successfully completed a large number of optimisation projects for clients in both the public and private sector. Steve is Cisco CCNA and CCNA security certified and is currently studying CCNP. Steve has gained a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science from the University of Warwick, and an MSc in Network Systems from the University of Sunderland. He has also completed a PhD using genetic algorithms in conjunction with parallel processing to produce a multi-utility network optimisation tool.
Intergence (www.intergence.com) is a leading independent IT Optimisation Consultancy, headquartered in Cambridge, UK, with a regional office in the Middle East (Dubai, UAE) and was founded in 2003 to address the growing requirements of clients demanding high-level impartial expertise in networks and IT.
The company has recently (February 2012) been announced as one of the suppliers of the UK Government’s cloud computing procurement initiative, G-Cloud. The framework will feature services divided into four segments, with Intergence forming part of the specialist cloud services.
Our close relationship within the Cambridge academic community enables us to innovate in partnership, rapidly incorporating the latest technology advances into our products and services.
Intergence operates over two distinct lines of business; people and performance. Our expertise and knowledge within the field allows us to resource the right people in the right place, getting your IT projects completed quickly and hassle free. Utilizing world first products and professional optimization services, Intergence has a clear and common purpose- to improve performance and extract more value from your IT infrastructure.
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Laura Brown/Justine Smith
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