One of the things that I mention in most of the webcasts that I do is the value of doing baseline assessments. I was chatting with Nikki Jennings the other day (Nikki is one of our senior sales engineers here at SolarWinds) and she said that she always recommends that her customers do a baseline and many times helps them outline the steps needed to do it. So, with that in mind, here are some quick tips on conducting network baseline assessments.
More data is better. If you can collect data for 60 days vs. 30 days - do it. There is really no "minimum requirement" for how long you collect data, but just remember that the more data you have the more accurate your baseline will be. Anything beyond 90 days is overkill unless you're trying to assess seasonality and IMO that's a different kind of assessment.
Document the network. You really need to have a good understanding of the topology of the network and the relative application data paths to be able to understand the data that you get from the assessment. If you don't have a good network discovery and mapping tool download LANsurveyor.
Collect data from everything. Routers, switches, firewalls, servers, load balancers - if you have it, include it in your assessment. This is a piece of cake if you have Orion and use the Universal Device Poller (UnDP).
If you don't understand the data - get some help. Too many times as engineers we tend to isolate ourselves vs. asking for help when we need it. Remember, this is what community sites like those available at Thwack, Network World, and Cisco are for...
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