Collecting and analyzing real-time performance data puts organizations in a good position to keep up with changing external conditions, streamline processes and ultimately make better decisions. Companies may use probes to keep tabs on network events and application activities, with the intent of knowing enough about their IT environments to set and align goals for the business at large. Across any industry, from finance to telecommunications, here's how getting the data you need can help improve business operations.
How Real-Time Performance Data Benefits Businesses
On a technical level, real-time performance data can tell managers about metrics such as:
- Bandwidth and other resource allocation
- Effectiveness of current policies for quality of service, class of service and IPTOS
- Current availability and performance of given applications, including response times
- Degradation and bottlenecks that can be eliminated
- Levels of jitter, delay and packet loss across the network
So how can your company get the information it needs to improve IT processes and ensure the health of infrastructure? Real-time performance data is a relatively new tool for increasing organizational efficiency, so it can take some getting used to. Being able to obtain and assess data right away opens up many new possibilities in areas such as business intelligence and network optimization, plus it enables broad strategies like real-time performance management that can remake the entire organization.
"Real-time monitoring of internal performance enables the company to react rapidly to significant developments," stated ARC Advisory Group. "Using real-time information to drive actions empowers decision-makers at the time of greatest impact, i.e., when they make a decision. Solutions are emerging that enable real-time monitoring across an extended enterprise."
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Best Practices for Using Real-Time Performance Data
Here are some guidelines for getting the most out of real-time performance data, so that your teams can agilely respond to evolving requirements.
Use application monitoring software that generates a wide range of reports
Today's networks are increasingly complex and required to handle high levels of activity from desktop and mobile endpoints. Hundreds of thousands of IP communications may pass through company infrastructure at one time, necessitating tools that can comb through this traffic and ensure that nothing is amiss. As networks continue to expand, real-time network performance monitoring becomes essential for preventing costly outages and slowdowns.
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Understand how real-time performance monitoring probes work
A probe is basically any sensor that can report on an IP-enabled device. Probes can return information that is useful for forecasting potential issues and measuring bandwidth utilization. With real-time performance data, a probe may be outfitted to report on the TCP connection, Internet Control Message Protocol echo, UDP timestamp or other metric, relaying its findings between the client device and a user-designated server.
Utilize timestamps to keep track of latency in packet communications
Creating timestamps is an important part of real-time performance data collection. To make sure that all timestamps are accurate, it is necessary to synchronize all nodes on the network to a single time source, usually the Network Time Protocol. Be aware, however, that the NTP is an increasingly popular target of distributed denial of service attacks. Addressing the vulnerability is usually not difficult, but keep an eye out for suspicious activity.