A few weeks ago, I told you how you can use NetFlow technology to diagnose the performance of your network and see who and what are talking on your network.  Now I want to share with you an additional technology that can be used to gain even deeper insight into network performance with a specific eye on WAN performance.


Using the IP SLA, a wicked cool technology as our Head Geek is fond of proclaiming, that is already built into most of your Cisco routers you are able to measure transport metrics from one device to another allowing you to isolate point-to-point performance issues. IP SLA generates time-based performance data while NetFlow generates volume-based data.  An IP SLA operation is analogous to putting a test car on a highway with specific instructions on where to go and then measuring whether it gets there (availability), the time it takes to get there (latency), and the space between the cars (jitter).


Let me give you a few use cases to better explain just how IP SLA measures your traffic performance.


Use Case 1: Monitoring WAN performance



An IP SLA operation is executed every 60 seconds between routers.  The operation reports back the availability of the connection, the packet transmit time (latency), packet loss and jitter.  By examining the statistics that come back between each point, you can determine where you may have a WAN issue that allows you to take further action.


Use Case 2:  Monitor end-to-end network quality


In this example, you create 4 different IP SLA operations to identify potential problem areas in your network.  First you check the overall response time from one end-point to another end-point (852ms).  Next you create additional operations that break the end-to-end response time into a series of smaller segments.  By examining each independent segment as it relates to the overall performance, you can again identify potential problem areas.


Use Case 3:  Verify Service Level Agreements (my personal favorite)


Perhaps you have a service level agreement with your WAN provider or maybe even internal SLAs that you need to meet.  So, how do you know if those SLA’s are actually being met?  Again, using IP SLA technology, you can measure your WAN performance and compare that to what you service provider is telling you.  If you were a good enough negotiator and have charge-back, refund or credit rights then you may be able to recover some money if those SLAs aren’t being met.  At a minimum it will give you some leverage the next time the contract comes up.


Use Case 4: Assessing VoIP and Video Infrastructure

With IP SLA you can monitor jitter across various parts of your network to determine if your infrastructure can handle deployment of voice and/or video over IP.


Hopefully you can see from the four use cases just how powerful IP SLA can be for monitoring the overall performance of your network. 


SolarWinds IP SLA Manager, a module of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, is a powerful solution for identifying site-specific and WAN related network performance issues using the built-in IP SLA technology found in most of our Cisco routers.


Learn more about SolarWinds IP SLA Manager.