One of the most effective tools for monitoring and troubleshooting network performance is to establish a network baseline. A baseline is a process for studying the network at regular intervals to ensure that the network is working as designed. A network baseline is more than a single report detailing the health of the network at a certain point in time. Creating an effective network performance baseline is accomplished over a period of time. Measuring performance at varying times (Figures 1 and 2) and loads will assist in creating a better picture of overall network performance.

The output derived from network commands can contribute data to the network baseline.

One method for starting a baseline is to copy and paste the results from an executed ping, trace, or other relevant command into a text file. These text files can be time stamped with the date and saved into an archive for later retrieval.

An effective use of the stored information is to compare the results over time (Figure 3). Among items to consider are error messages and the response times from host to host. If there is a considerable increase in response times, there may be a latency issue to address.

The importance of creating documentation cannot be emphasized enough. Verification of host-to-host connectivity, latency issues, and resolutions of identified problems can assist a network administrator in keeping a network running as efficiently as possible.

Corporate networks should have extensive baselines; more extensive than we can describe in this course. Professional-grade software tools are available for storing and maintaining baseline information. In this course, we only cover some basic techniques and discuss the purpose of baselines.

Best practices for baseline processes can be found here.

Capturing ping command output can also be completed from the IOS prompt, as shown in Figure 4.