I’ve written other posts on some of the basic disciplines of management, including (so far) inventory and discovery as well as event management, and how these come in many forms and levels of implementation depending on the network management system. Same thing with performance management. Let’s take a look.
There are two main approaches to performance: elemental and application.
Elemental Performance: Measurements in this area relate to the performance of the devices themselves: is data (packet) throughput what is expected?
Application Performance: Management of application performance is done by inspecting application flow through an interface. In other words, what is the application and how much data is flowing? There are various protocols for monitoring flow, including Netflow (primarily for Cisco devices and other vendors who support it), IPFIX (industry standard derived from the latest version of Cisco Netflow), Jflow (Juniper), Sflow (various vendors and standards), NBAR (Network Based Application Recognition—also Cisco), and so on.
Key to performance management is the length of history that is retained so that trending can be analyzed and prediction can be performed. Low-end solutions typically provide short history. Higher-end solutions provide much longer history.
Rudimentary network management solutions provide little to no performance data.
Basic solutions provide only elemental performance, and at a light level with very short history and light reporting capability.
Intermediate solutions provide both performance approaches, but typically in separate products (with separate costs).
Enterprise-level solutions provide both an elemental view and an application flow view of performance, in an integrated manner—performance investigations can link from elemental performance to the flow across that interface in a single button click, allowing the most efficient forensic analysis possible.
Another advanced technology used in the enterprise is IP SLA, which measures the latency and other timing metrics between two points on the network using a variety of synthetic transaction techniques. Basic network management tools do not support IPSLA, whereas enterprise class tools allow IP SLA pairs and routes to be created and reported on.