Understanding Measurement Points, Key Performance Indicators, and Baseline Values

 

This chapter topic provides guidelines for monitoring the service quality of an IP network. It describes how service providers and network administrators can use information provided by Juniper Networks routers to monitor network performance and capacity. You should have a thorough understanding of the SNMP and the associated MIB supported by Junos OS.

Note

For a good introduction to the process of monitoring an IP network, see RFC 2330, Framework for IP Performance Metrics.

This topic contains the following sections:

Measurement Points

Defining the measurement points where metrics are measured is equally as important as defining the metrics themselves. This section describes measurement points within the context of this chapter and helps identify where measurements can be taken from a service provider network. It is important to understand exactly where a measurement point is. Measurement points are vital to understanding the implication of what the actual measurement means.

An IP network consists of a collection of routers connected by physical links that are all running the Internet Protocol. You can view the network as a collection of routers with an ingress (entry) point and an egress (exit) point. See Figure 1.

  • Network-centric measurements are taken at measurement points that most closely map to the ingress and egress points for the network itself. For example, to measure delay across the provider network from Site A to Site B, the measurement points should be the ingress point to the provider network at Site A and the egress point at Site B.

  • Router-centric measurements are taken directly from the routers themselves, but be careful to ensure that the correct router subcomponents have been identified in advance.

Figure 1: Network Entry Points
Network Entry Points
Note

Figure 1 does not show the client networks at customer premises, but they would be located on either side of the ingress and egress points. Although this chapter does not discuss how to measure network services as perceived by these client networks, you can use measurements taken for the service provider network as input into such calculations.

Basic Key Performance Indicators

For example, you could monitor a service provider network for three basic key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Availability measures the “reachability” of one measurement point from another measurement point at the network layer (for example, using ICMP ping). The underlying routing and transport infrastructure of the provider network will support the availability measurements, with failures highlighted as unavailability.

  • Health measures the number and type of errors that are occurring on the provider network, and can consist of both router-centric and network-centric measurements, such as hardware failures or packet loss.

  • Performance of the provider network measures how well it can support IP services (for example, in terms of delay or utilization).

Setting Baselines

How well is the provider network performing? We recommend an initial three-month period of monitoring to identify a network’s normal operational parameters. With this information, you can recognize exceptions and identify abnormal behavior. You should continue baseline monitoring for the lifetime of each measured metric. Over time, you must be able to recognize performance trends and growth patterns.

Within the context of this chapter, many of the metrics identified do not have an allowable operational range associated with them. In most cases, you cannot identify the allowable operational range until you have determined a baseline for the actual variable on a specific network.