Network Performance Management

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Network Performance Management Definition

Network performance management NPM is the collection of methods that manage, enable, and ensure a computer network’s optimal performance levels. Typically, network performance management demands the routine monitoring of quality and performance service levels for each network component and device.

In general, network performance management reviews performance metrics at a granular level from across the network. For example, NPM reviews router performance and measures it at each port.

Key network performance management functions include:

  • Error rates
  • Network delays
  • Packet loss
  • Packet transmission
  • Throughput


Network performance management takes a proactive approach to identifying and reducing bottlenecks and other network problems. These issues affect not only end users, but also business operations as a whole, including basic internal maintenance tasks.


Image depicts Network Performance Management example with VMware's vRealize Operations Manager dashboard.

Network Performance Management FAQs

What is Network Performance Management?

Modern IT infrastructure demands the actionable insights made possible by end-to-end visibility because it is more complex than ever before. Networks deploy a broad range of components to improve productivity, enhance network performance, and enable a positive user experience.

Maintaining this level of comprehensive visibility is a challenge given that technology stacks have both expanded into third party SaaS applications and increased in density locally. The effects of any one component experiencing performance issues can be wide-reaching, and it is often difficult or impossible to pinpoint the catalyst of the resultant problems across such a broad swath of components without granular network performance management solutions.

NPM identifies and mitigates problems related to internal functions by assessing the performance metrics of each network infrastructure component. Real-time monitoring of performance data or performance logs enables IT teams to proactively resolve network-based performance issues by identifying potential causes of outages before they create a negative user experience. This level of greater insight and the improved performance it enables are among the benefits of NPM.


Network Performance Management Strategy?

NPM involves establishing a strategy of network operations, policies, and workflows intended to prevent, mitigate, and solve network performance issues. Selecting network performance management software vendors and protocols depends largely on the particular needs of a business, but there are several NPM best practices that can help improve IT operations while reducing the chance of problems.

Gather High Quality Data

Reviewing appropriate performance metrics is critical to effective NPM. It is a challenge to sift through the wide range of information a complex network generates.

Network performance management tools streamline the process by monitoring data relating to bandwidth usage, network node outages, network traffic analysis, packet loss, and SNMP performance. They then convey relevant information to IT for evaluation, or analyze the data using artificial intelligence/AIOps or machine learning.

Analyze Network Management Performance Metrics Carefully

Effective network monitoring tools can provide a host of performance metrics that offer data about the health of the IT stack because so many different components are involved in keeping any network operational. It’s easier to spot troublesome areas for performance with a more comprehensive view into a multi-layered network, but it’s just as important to have insight into which specific metrics offer the correct insights. With the right data in hand, improve user experience and productivity as you mitigate problems with more carefully tailored network management policies.

Collect Data Automatically

Automatic data collection is essential because it can take time to identify a pattern of performance problems. Effective network performance management software logs all performance issues, such as the circumstances surrounding each problem. The IT team is better able to assess which problems demand closer monitoring or more in-depth investigation by referring to a log of past concerns.

Identify Security Issues

Security threats such as malware are often the cause of poor network performance, and can quickly spell disaster for the network and the business. An NPM system should be capable of detecting unsecured network devices, malware, and other network vulnerabilities. This allows IT to develop network fault & performance management protocols to manage and prevent weaknesses before confidential data or end users are affected.


Network Performance Management vs Network Performance Monitoring?

Although the terms are similar and easy to confuse, network performance management and network performance monitoring are distinct in terms of both intent and purpose.

Network performance monitoring processes are aimed at identifying bottlenecks in performance. In contrast, the network performance management process helps mitigate problems and restore the network to the required level of performance. NPM analyzes, reviews, maintains, and manages performance based on internal metrics as well as from the user’s perspective.

Network performance monitoring is just one component of NPM, the part that involves the process of watching, collecting, reviewing, measuring, and diagnosing network component metrics. Once these assessments are complete, management begins. NPM is the overall set of procedures, policies, responsibilities, and network flows designed to achieve or maintain optimal network performance.

Network performance monitoring is always an important part of effective network performance management, because smarter decision-making, prevention, and mitigation strategies rely upon the ability to identify the root cause of problems. However, each uses its own set of techniques to pursue a unique set of goals. Network performance monitoring is one tool among many designed to take on the suite of network performance management challenges that might be present in any enterprise.


Application Performance and Network Performance Management?

Better application experience demands real time visibility and analysis of application performance in the context of the network. For several reasons, only more modern network performance management platforms and tools are up to the task of application network performance management and mobile NPM.

Traditionally, organizations have turned to various tools and network utilities to reveal possible causes of performance degradation, such as ICMP, SPAN/ERSPAN, S-Flow, J-Flow, SNMP, and other tools and flows. However, these tend to provide a more basic level of insight, and may fail to provide necessary network performance assurance data. They also tend to add to troubleshooting time and operational complexity because they operate in silos.

Information such as device utilization, port status, and link status are important, but they don’t offer data center application visibility. This is a critical metric for application and network performance management, further confirming the need for a granular view into the network with a unified, application-centric model.

As cloud adoption increases rapidly, organizations are moving from private clouds to hybrid clouds and public clouds. Real time insight into the network from application network performance management solutions is even more critical as new ways of access networking in enterprises, WAN connectivity, and data center networking develop.

Traditional network performance monitoring solutions are ill-equipped to manage the data shift from private to public cloud, which opens organizations to security vulnerabilities. Although multiple vendors provide application network performance management tools for analytics and visibility, a holistic approach that eliminates vendor lock-in with proprietary hardware/software is essential.

Furthermore, at the enterprise level a single vendor does not always provide the underlying infrastructure. Multiple IT infrastructure components send application flows to the upstream analyzer or tool in their own ways. It’s supposed to make troubleshooting easier to use an analyzer, but in practice, managing multiple infrastructure components, tools, and protocols under these conditions can be complex and time consuming.

An innovative network performance management architecture that uses existing tools wherever possible and closes gaps in analysis and visibility with new solutions and tools is the ideal way to achieve an application-centric network. This demands next-generation network performance management tools that integrate tightly with underlying infrastructure, offering better insight into the various flows prevalent in the network and the broader application landscape.

This type of network architecture allows organizations to retain their traditional application flow data collection methods such as physical/virtual taps, Netflow, centralized tools/analyzers, and SPAN by deploying an orchestration/intent layer. This orchestration/intent layer may be customized based on business objectives and the existing environment, and manages all underlying tools from a single pane for ease of analysis and management.


Elements of Network Performance Management?

Some of the common elements of network performance management architecture are as follows.

Intelligent Visualization. Intelligent visualization offers insight into independent solutions and tools, ability to manage network and application performance and tools in one place, and insightful visualization of collected application-centric network data.

Flow-Based Monitoring. Even when organizations use traditional techniques for collecting application flow from the underlying network, flow-based monitoring offers improved visibility into traffic passing through the network.

Big Data, Cloud. Integrates with an analytics platform and flow monitoring from cloud providers to enable end-to-end, centralized data visibility of information flow into the cloud from the enterprise network.

Multiple Domains. Smarter application, device monitoring, and network monitoring architecture consolidates NPM metrics from all possible domains, including traditional IT infrastructure such as applications, network, and voice/video. This holistic view of the entire IT infrastructure is increasingly important with the advent of increased cloud adoption and software-defined networks.

Programmability. Using open APIs to link various components for communication up- and downstream and data analysis and sharing enables customization.

Closed Loop Automation. Closed loop automation enables self-healing by offering built-in intelligence to match possible problems with potential recovery scenarios. This automates the entire process starting with data monitoring and collection through data processing, remediation, and storage.

NPM/APM Platform Convergence. Co-relating metrics and data from both network application performance management and network performance monitoring offers administrators a holistic view for faster troubleshooting and superior visibility.


Does the VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer Platform Complement Network Performance Management?

Yes. The VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer Platform is a smart, software-defined load balancer that complements both network performance management and application performance monitoring (APM). VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer’s APM functionalities include application event alerts, network health monitoring, application log filing, and end user experience monitoring.

VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer’s elastic load balancing solution can minimize delays and shrink rollout times for applications and new services. The VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer cloud based platform also offers rapid incident resolution, enabling users to map interactions visually, monitor the health of applications, and see system-wide views at-a-glance.

Learn more about how to manage network performance with an elastic load balancer.

For more on the actual implementation of load balancing, security applications and web application firewalls check out our Application Delivery How-To Videos.