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Capacity Planning

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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

Capacity planning is a technique that network administrators use to plan for network growth and ensure that they expand their network with equipment that will meet projected needs. Capacity planning involves most network systems, including servers, network components such as adapters and cable, switches, routers, and other equipment. It also involves network topologies-that is, planning the upgrade to switched networks over a period of time in anticipation of higher traffic rates and network-wide traffic patterns.

Capacity planning involves measuring current throughput rates. This may be done by analyzing reports and statistical information that is produced by servers and other equipment. Monitoring equipment may also be used to track network performance. Without capacity planning, administrators must deal with problems as they occur, typically by reacting to alarms that indicate that some threshold for a system has been exceeded. Capacity planning can help you deal with problems and disasters before they happen.

Third-party capacity planning tools can help. Such tools are specifically designed to help network administrators plan for the future and prevent impending disasters. They include network-mapping tools that document the network and keep track of problems. However, most important, these tools can simulate traffic on a network, which provides an administrator with a real view of how a network or parts of a network perform under pressure. You can even simulate a disaster to see where the worst problems will be in advance.

The Web site listed on the related entries page provides extensive coverage of this topic.

Several capacity planning and simulation tools are described below. See the related entries page for a more complete list of vendors. These packages can be expensive ($10,000 plus), but are essential for large corporate networks.

  • Concord's Network Health automates the collection, analysis, and reporting of network data. It discovers and collects data from existing devices in your network and then condenses it into a graphical presentation showing the most critical information.

  • CACI Products Company COMNET Predictor can generate network traffic and vary changes in growth rate so you can examine traffic levels over time. You can perform WAN failures to monitor what happens when they fail. You can also set warnings, alarms, and overloads.

  • NETClarity's Capacity Planner emulates network traffic and provides application simulation so you can uncover the impact of new application traffic or network changes before you implement them. It will predict when you will need to add LAN or WAN capacity and point out where bottlenecks are most likely to occur.

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.