Banta Corporation Uses NetMRI
"While we have a number of other tools we use for performance monitoring on the network, NetMRI is able to do more long-term analysis of issues than any other product we have."
—Derek Dolan, Network EngineerRead Case Study
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Network Analysis Tip: Managing Port Saturation for Capacity Planning
Why Is This Important?
As networks become more critical and organizations add more users, the number of switch ports being consumed has skyrocketed over the past few years. Capacity planning has become critical because the cost of adding new ports to a network infrastructure can take a huge bite out of IT budgets that are already stretched thin.
Historically, IT organizations added new ports on a first come/first serve basis and, typically, just added them sequentially. For example, if I just added a port on this switch yesterday, my next addition will be "next in line." As soon as all of the ports appear filled, I move to the next device which has available resources, or go out and buy another device.
This approach might work just fine if all the organization did was add ports, but it doesn't account well for moves, changes, or deletes. For example, when a person leaves an organization or department, that port is no longer needed. For many environments, such as campuses, port consumption is even more difficult to measure because of the transient nature of use. Users plug into an active port for a few hours or days, and then leave.
However, IT staffs are so busy with other day-to-day tasks that the unused port is often overlooked. Instead of going through the requirements with a fine tooth comb, network engineers just add a new port. While this meets the needs of the users, organizations are left with extremely underutilized capacity gobbling up precious budget dollars.
The Manual Solution
The manual process for monitoring port saturation and consumption can be a two headed monster that sucks valuable time from an already jam packed day. The first step is manually logging into each and every device and checking the current status. This may sound trivial a first, but the time and effort quickly adds up when you multiply the number of devices by the number of times you check the status each month or quarter.
The bigger challenge is manually correlating all of the data and interpreting the results. For example, a port appears active, but when it was last used or how much it was used are the critical questions. Evaluating transient users is virtually impossible in a manual process because they come and go so frequently. IT managers never want to kill a needed port, so they tend to be overly cautious and leave non-active ports up if they can't find enough information.
And, since we all know the IT staff's chief focus is keeping the network up and running, optimizing port capacity is typically a much lower priority. Add the time and effort required to do it manually, and it's often a job that is only done as a last resort—even if it means money saved for the organization.
The Automated Solution
NetMRI automates network management and greatly reduces the time and effort required to interact with the devices on your network to optimize aspects such as port saturation and consumption allowing the IT team can properly plan for capacity requirements.
Instead of wasting time and effort to manually check each device, NetMRI automatically tracks performance and usage on switch ports, and deciphers the current status of each. The power of NetMRI is how it brings the pertinent information to the forefront with a minimal amount of manual time and effort. NetMRI monitors ports 24/7, so even if a difficult to track transient user comes and goes, NetMRI will provide accurate information on the port so you can meet your capacity goals.
Now, instead of just adding a new port for every request, the IT team can actually reclaim unused ports because of the move/change/delete activity. For example, if the IT team schedules an automated report to show which ports have had no activity for 30 days (or whatever parameter you set), any port with no activity will be reclaimed and put back into the pool of available resources.
As the cost for switch ports continues to grow, the amount saved with proper capacity management can quickly pay for the automated solution. More importantly, ongoing efficiency and cost savings will allow the IT team to focus their resources on the biggest impacting initiatives across the organization.