Measuring network performance from the end-user's perspective involves looking at the speeds at which their devices send and receive information.
The consistent performance of your company's network is essential to productivity. And a wireless network monitoring (WNM) solution that assesses its performance from the end-user’s perspective can keep it up and running.
Measuring network performance from this perspective often involves looking at quantifiable data transfer speeds. Slower speeds will be quite noticeable, pointing IT professionals where to troubleshoot the cause of the slowdown.
Here's a look at some metrics IT teams can use to measure network performance based on users' speeds:
Look at latency
When dealing with network performance, latency (or delay) measures how long it takes for data to travel between two locations. You'll generally assess latency by defining two destinations and measuring the amount of time the data transfer takes.
In an ideal situation, network latency is as close to zero as possible; the fastest possible data transfer speed is the speed of light. Still, multiple factors, including the rate at which light can move through your fiber-optic cabling and queuing delays in your packet-switched network, can influence speed.
Your IT team should keep a close eye on any latency issues your network is experiencing and address them early to ensure end-users have the fastest speeds possible.
Consider packet loss
A network packet is a small segment of formatted data that is part of a larger message carried on a packet-switched network. Each packet contains both user data and control information.
Packet loss measures the number of packets that fail to transmit when sent from one location to another. When this occurs, some information doesn't reach its destination, causing slowdowns. Causes of packet loss include poor router performance, software problems, and network congestion.
From the end-user's perspective, packet loss can cause streaming interruptions and poor voice call performance. If people within your organization often communicate via video calls, packet loss can cause significant productivity concerns.
When packet loss occurs, the network will re-transmit the information. However, this leads to even more network congestion, which can slow the end-user's experience even further. IT teams should look at end-users' response times to identify the components causing this issue.
Problems with throughput
Throughput measures the amount of data or network packets that transfer between a source and its destination. Rather than looking at bottlenecks and slowdowns like latency and packet loss, throughput identifies how much data is moving through the network over a pre-determined period.
From there, you can compare your throughput to your bandwidth and identify discrepancies between the two. As a rule, your throughput rate should be at least 50% of your bandwidth.
Although throughput and latency sound similar—and they both measure your network's speed—there is a subtle difference. Latency tells you how much the network is slowing, while throughput gives you the actual data transfer rate.
Latency often influences throughput, but using both metrics gives IT teams more insight into a network's performance, allowing them to identify problems and come up with solutions.
Bandwidth is the maximum speed at which information can move between the source and its destination. You'll measure your network's bandwidth in bits per second, which lets you know how much data it could potentially transfer over a given time.
However, keep in mind that bandwidth measures capacity rather than speed. It's rare that you'll achieve the top speed on a network because so many factors are at play. But if there's a significant difference between throughput and bandwidth, it's time to dig a little deeper to determine the cause.
What's affecting your network's performance?
Your network is likely pretty complex, and there's a lot that can go wrong at any given time. However, the closer you watch its performance, the easier it becomes to identify issues early and make necessary adjustments.
You could run into issues with your network infrastructure, including the physical items that allow you to transmit data. Switches, routers, and cables all fall under this category, as do operating systems, networking software, and security measures.
In many cases, this infrastructure could put an organization beyond its network's capacity. You'll need to make some upgrades if this occurs, but at least you'll know the root cause of your performance issues.
The limitations of a network could also lead to slower data transfer. These barriers might include insufficient system memory, not meeting the minimum hardware requirements, or failing to put a packet queuing system in place. Network issues might require an upgrade if the hardware isn't meeting the system's demands, but the solution could also be as simple as putting some protocols in place.
The applications used can influence the network's efficiency. Poorly performing applications tend to take up more bandwidth than they should, leading to slowdowns and bottlenecks for other users. If your employees are using native applications that aren't performing well, it might be time to address this issue and ease the burden.
Identify your networks issues early
Luckily, it's relatively easy to identify the presence of a network issue from end-users' perspectives. However, an IT team must stay on top of these problems to avoid network issues that hinder workplace productivity.
7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise wireless experience monitoring. 7SIGNAL provides a cloud-based platform that continuously monitors wireless networks and identifies elusive performance issues impacting application performance and digital experience. By taking the "outside-in" approach to monitoring, 7SIGNAL has visibility into the edge of any enterprise or home Wi-Fi network where complex device interaction exists, and user experience matters most. The platform maximizes employee productivity, operational efficiency, and network ROI. Sapphire Eye® and Mobile Eye® are designed for and deployed at the world's most innovative organizations, educational institutions, healthcare systems, and government agencies. Learn more at www.7signal.com.