With the approaching New Year, network administrators need to understand what will ensure their success in 2009 and eliminate some of the problems that they might have experienced in 2008. Network Instruments has prepared a list of the top 5 ways you can become a network hero in 2009. These tips can help you save your department budgets and eradicate hours of wasted time.

  • Harness the information you already have—Most network devices are brimming with metrics that you can harness for cost-effective visibility. For example, if you have a Cisco environment, chances are your network is capable of collecting NetFlow data. This capability can help you easily track active applications on the network. Aggregate this data into your analyzer for real-time statistics on application activity and drill down into problems.
  • Test, test, test—A little upfront effort can eliminate major network headaches and save resources later. Conducting a site survey, understanding overall bandwidth demand and application performance, and establishing benchmarks for acceptable performance are critical for determining how your network will handle any new application. It's easier to identify and budget for changes upfront rather than incur unforeseen costs after deployment.
  • Prioritizing critical traffic—Why spend more money increasing bandwidth when you can prioritize traffic? To improve performance for key applications, set higher precedence for important applications and lower precedence for less critical applications.
  • Stop throwing bandwidth—Companies often throw more bandwidth at network problems rather than actually resolving them. Spending the time to fully diagnose the problem will result in greater bang for your IT dollar. For example, when users complain about application slowness or a perceived slow network, the problem might be related to server performance, not the network. Although increasing capacity will improve speed, you might incur larger gains for less by purchasing an application server.
  • Anticipate rather than react—Often, administrators apply analysis tools only after the network slows or a user complains. Rather than letting your analysis tools gather dust, continuously track performance trends and emerging patterns. Active management lets you spot performance anomalies and network problems before they affect the user.
Network Instruments favors retrospective network analysis. Here's a video the company has put together on the subject.