The article, Need for increased network bandwidth is IT's biggest datacentre pain-point, cites a recent study of more than 1500 North American and European IT professionals. Emulex Corporation, a storage networking company, conducted this study to find out where these folks were feeling the biggest pinch, bandwidth-wise. Study participants named the following as their biggest data center network bandwidth eaters:

  • Server virtualization
  • Cloud computing
  • Big data
  • Storage and data networks integration


Bandwidth Issue Causes


Lots of things decrease your bandwidth. Like when communications devices fail. Or when you’ve got old or klugey hardware and/or software. Of course, there are plenty of times when your bandwidth needs increase – like when we use the notorious bandwidth eaters noted above.


What You Can Do to Improve Bandwidth – For Free


And whose job is it to make sure the bandwidth’s there when needed? The network or sys admin'’s, of course. Let’s face it…it’s your job to wring every last drop of bandwidth out of the network so that everyone else can do their job_f.


So what can you do to make sure you’re able to make the most of your network – without breaking that ever-shrinking budget? Begin by looking at available free tools that can help you squeeze more value out of your network.


IP SLA Tools


Cisco and Juniper, for example, have free tools in their routers than can help you monitor the network. Cisco encodes an Internet Protocol Service Level Agreement (IP SLA) into its IOS. The IP SLA enables you to review an SLA for an IP application or service This means you can use the IP SLA to validate service guarantees, monitor the network and any issues, and confirm network performance.


Connectivity Tools


By using another free tool like WireShark, you can determine if your network is sending and receiving data packets. If your service is supposed to have 99 or 100% uptime, but you can only send and receive data packets 85% of the time, you may need to contact your service provider and find out what’s going on on their end.


Quality of Service Tools


Enabling Class-Based Quality of Service (CBQoS) on your router lets you check the quality of your data and determines how usable your network data really is. This is especially important for voice data, such as in the cases of Voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing. High quality data means clear voice and video transmissions.


Network App Monitoring Tools


Most companies' business-critical applications are now on their networks. So having visibility into and understanding how your network-based apps are performing are key to using bandwidth wisely. Free tools, such as SolarWinds Cloud Performance Montor, VM Monitor, and WMI Monitor (for monitoring Windows Apps and servers) can help you see what’s doing what on your network, and help you plan appropriately.


What Else You Can Do to Improve Bandwidth – For Very Little Money


You may also want to consider buying software designed especially to monitor bandwidth usage across your network. And since software is almost always cheaper than hardware, purchasing a full-featured network monitoring software tool won’t break your budget.


SolarWinds Netflow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) is a tool you might want to try out. NTA provides insight across your network into:


  • Bandwidth and traffic patterns down to the interface level
  • Which users, applications, and protocols are consuming the most bandwidth
  • The IP addresses of top talkers
  • Cisco® NetFlow, Juniper® J-Flow, IPFIX, sFlow®, Huawei NetStream™ and other flow data