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GCN : March 2013
39 only the performance of the single application that you are testing." e ultimate answer is to deploy tools for both active and passive testing and use the combined output to access the total health of the network, Bear says. Finally, he recommends deploying tools that are compliant with FCAPS, an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) network management model that sets tolerance levels for fault, configuration, administration, performance and security components. FCAPS tools can prioritize performance alerts according to severity and create reports using data collected over time from across the network to track usage and bottleneck trends. 5. Search for Actionable Insights Gathering a lot of data won't improve network performance. Administrators need tools to help them slice and dice the data and, thereby, determine the most effective responses. F5's MacVittie advises that data centers also adopt tools that can aggregate performance information and display summaries in an electronic dashboard and additionally convert the data into report-friendly formats. Plus, the analysis tool must support the ability to drill down into the infrastructure, she says. "Look at the CDWG.com | 800.808.4239 application level because that's generally what will cause users to complain first. 6. Integrate Everything into a Common Framework Network managers face a fundamental question when they evaluate any monitoring solution: Is it better to buy a comprehensive tool suite from a single vendor or integrate best-of-breed tools from multiple companies? "We've gone full circle on that question a couple of times," Bear says. "Now, I think there's a general belief that no one vendor is the best at every aspect of network monitoring. So organizations will have to go with some mixture of best-of-breed solutions." No matter which side of this question a network administrator comes down on, the key will be for the tools to all connect to a central data-collection platform so that managers can gain a common view of network health. Tool integration is particularly important when organizations embrace new initiatives because network administrators often assume that they'll need a new set of monitoring tools as well, Frey says. "You may have some new tools for the detailed troubleshooting, configuration and administration of a specific technology," he adds. VISIT CDWG.com/network TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR NETWORK OPTIMIZATION SOLUTIONS. "That's fine for the initial assessment and pilot phase. But once you move to production, the operations and planning functions need to be integrated into the big-picture network monitoring platform." Integration of network performance data is also important. A shared information database, also known as a performance management database, enables organizations to create internal best practices for resolving problems quickly. "This is an important resource for organizations, particularly more complex ones with large IT teams. Such a database means that everybody has access to the same information," Bear adds. Continued Diligence By adopting these tactics, network managers should be able to instill best practices that will help them scale and grow their networks as their organizations expand. But even after they develop a monitoring strategy and pull together a portfolio of solutions to help them carry it out, they will still need to be vigilant. "Organizations must constantly adapt --- to acquisitions, to new applications and to new users," Avaya's Rumford points out. " erefore, networks have to adapt over time."