What is Network Optimization?

Network optimization is a set of best practices used to improve network performance. A variety of tools and techniques can be used to monitor and improve network performance such as: global load balancing, minimize latency, packet loss monitoring and bandwidth management.

With advancements in cloud computing services, applications are now being delivered over the public internet, as well as in private data centers. For enterprises is now even more crucial to deliver secure, high-performance applications ensuring the highest quality of service to their end users. This involves a series of network optimization tools and techniques that can help to identify issues, allowing enterprises to choose the best course of action.

How to measure network performance

There are two ways of measuring network performance – passive and active. Passive measurement tools monitor applications already on the network, gathering performance data metrics.

This gives a realistic representation of real-time conditions, since it focuses on real apps. There is also no danger of network disruption, as there is no additional traffic. Active measurement tools generate data tailored to baseline performance. This does require additional traffic, so must be scheduled at appropriate times.

How to monitor network traffic

Traffic is one of the network optimization considerations when monitoring overall performance. For example, packet loss concerns packets of data that have failed to transmit to their destination. Enterprises can measure traffic on both ends to identify missing packets.

Other metrics for measuring performance include:

  • Bandwidth – this is the amount of data, measured in bits per second, that can be sent over a given time period.
  • Jitter – this refers to the variation in time delay for data packets sent over a network.
  • Latency – this is the amount of time it takes for data to travel from one location to another. This is particularly important as it needs to be as close to zero as possible.

Bandwidth vs. latency

Bandwidth is commonly mistaken for internet speed, but it actually relates to how much data can be received. This is connected to latency because latency also affects network performance, but this concerns delays.

While latency involves the time it takes to initiate communication, bandwidth is how fast the information can be presented to the user.

What affects network performance?

Poor infrastructure, for example old network hardware including routers and cables, can affect bandwidth and latency. Likewise, poor network security may slow down performance as this can drain much-needed bandwidth.

Badly designed applications may consume too much bandwidth, particularly if they are not compatible with the network environment. Lastly, performance limitations on the network, for example, inadequate hardware, can increase packet loss.

Thankfully, there are many solutions to solve these common problems. An application load balancer, for example, can distribute traffic across multiple targets.

How Akamai’s network optimization tools can improve performance

Akamai operates a global cloud network spanning more than 160,000 servers in over 95 countries. The global Akamai Intelligent Platform handles more than two trillion Internet interactions daily to optimize the delivery of web content and applications to end users on any type of connected device, anywhere in the world.

For our enterprise and service provider customers, the Akamai platform delivers comprehensive network optimization capabilities suited for cloud and web-enabled applications, including:

  • Advanced edge caching capabilities that shorten the network distance between your users and your content—in most instances, to a single network hop.
  • Real-time IP routing optimizations that utilize the best-performing path between an end user and your origin infrastructure, for requests that can't be fulfilled from cache.
  • TCP layer optimizations that accelerate connection set-up and reduce round trips.
  • Distributed DNS solutions that protect your primary DNS servers from direct exposure to end users.
  • Global load balancing that apportions load across origin data centers based on Internet conditions as well as data center conditions.

Akamai's network optimization solutions also include inline, forward-based security solutions that prevent network attacks and application layer attacks from reaching your origin infrastructure.

Discover how network optimization can benefit your business

By leveraging Akamai's cloud-based network optimization and application delivery solutions, your business can:

  • Reduce IT costs by offloading traffic from your origin infrastructure and by reducing demands on your Support Desk.
  • Boost revenues by delivering a better web application experience for your customers and partners.
  • Increase workforce productivity by reducing application downtime and accelerating application delivery to remote or mobile employees.
  • Enhance visibility into application performance including end user monitoring and advanced video analytics.

Learn more about Akamai’s network optimization solutions for a better online enterprise experience.