Network Performance: Network Infrastructure

A network infrastructure is the physical components between your servers and your clients any of these components can participate in a performance problem. The following network infrastructure items can slow down your network:

  • Switches: Because switches are so inexpensive now, you can affordably solve a lot of performance problems by replacing outdated hubs with switches. Using switches instead of hubs reduces the overall load on your network. Also, make sure that your switches can handle the performance requirements of your network. For best performance, the switches should have gigabit ports.

  • Segment sizes: Keep the number of computers and other devices on each network segment to a reasonable number. About 20 devices is usually the right number. (Note that if you replace your old hubs with switches, you instantly cut the size of each segment because each port on a switch constitutes a separate segment.)

  • The network’s speed: If you have an older network, you’ll probably discover that many — if not all — of your users are still working at 100 Mbps. Upgrading to gigabit speed will speed up the network dramatically.

  • The backbone speed: If your network uses a backbone to connect segments, consider upgrading the backbone to 1 Gbps.

The hardest part about improving the performance of a network is determining what the bottlenecks are. With sophisticated test equipment and years of experience, network gurus can make pretty good educated guesses. Without the equipment and experience, you can still make pretty good uneducated guesses.

Sometimes a malfunctioning network card or other component slows down the network. For example, a switch may malfunction intermittently, occasionally letting packets through but dropping enough of them to slow down the network. After you identify the faulty component, replacing it will restore the network to its original speed.