It starts with users complaining that “the network is slow”.  As a network admin, we keep hearing this same feedback no matter how much the bandwidth is upgraded or QoS policies are implemented. It is hard to find a way to predict bandwidth consumption unless you analyze how it is consumed. NetFlow traffic data will help you answer when, by whom (users), and by what (applications and endpoints) network bandwidth is being utilized.

NetFlow, a network protocol developed by Cisco for collecting IP traffic information which eventually became the universally accepted standard on traffic monitoring, is included on most network routers and switches. With NetFlow you will be able to get visibility into real-time network bandwidth utilization, analyze historical and current traffic trends, and forecast whether there is any actual need of more bandwidth or you can optimize usage and save procurement budget.

Capacity Planning for your Future Needs

There are two primary reasons you want the ability to forecast bandwidth capacity needs: maintaining or improving network performance in order to ensure critical IT services, and managing the cost of bandwidth. By analyzing bandwidth consumption using NetFlow data you will be armed with measurable data to help you make bandwidth decisions, which in turn eases the capacity planning process. For instance, if you have unwanted traffic consuming most of the network, you wouldn’t have enough bandwidth for critical IT services like VoIP calls. By analyzing NetFlow, you’ll understand the type of applications that are consuming most of your bandwidth.

QoS policies for Managing Critical IT Services

Applications compete with each other for bandwidth when traversing the LAN/WAN and since bandwidth is neither infinite nor free, you will want to see how your bandwidth is being used.  Network traffic monitoring flow analysis tools help differentiate the types of network traffic by reporting on Type of Service (ToS) and DSCP fields from traffic conversations so you can monitor your bandwidth usage by application and measure the effectiveness of your QoS policies.

Historical data on NetFlow helps Capacity Planning

When you collect historical NetFlow data on your network, you can understand when bandwidth peaks happen in a day and how your users’ performance is impacted. Granular (i.e. one minute) visibility and long data retention will allow you to see past traffic spikes in order to better understand potential bottlenecks.

Better Forecasting Increases Productivity

Detailed NetFlow data collection can solve most of your puzzle in capacity planning. It helps plan network capacity more accurately—by deploying greater bandwidth for advanced networking services—as you scale up. Leveraging NetFlow, one can easily check if bandwidth growth is aligned with resources utilized in the current environment and plan for the future.

Using a NetFlow analyzer tool, you can capture raw NetFlow data, convert it into meaningful information that can give you real-time network traffic information, and perform capacity planning. Scaling your bandwidth based on network requirements and implementing QoS policies becomes much easier if you have relevant network traffic information.

Here are some additional resources for learning more about NetFlow and its applications:

Whitepaper:  NetFlow Tips and Tricks

Online Interactive Demo:  NetFlow Traffic Analyzer

Trial Download:  SolarWinds Bandwidth Analyzer Pack

About the Author:

Brad Hale, Product Marketing Principal for SolarWinds Network Management

Brad Hale is the product marketing principal for SolarWinds network management products.  He brings over 20 years of product management, product marketing, business development and strategy experience in the software, systems and semiconductor industries.  Brad has a BS in Computer Engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Butler University.


Ultimate Tech Challenge on Servers Contest

by admin on December 18, 2013


Here’s a cool contest from Dell and Microsoft that I wanted to share with my readers… I hope that you win the new laptop!

IT professionals run into interesting and complex challenges on a daily basis, and often times to come up with creative, imaginative and on-the-fly solutions to fix problems and keep a business running. Dealing with servers and storage issues are no different, and can present a handful of situational complexities for IT pros to face and overcome. All in a day’s work for the seasoned IT pro!

Dell and Microsoft want to hear a particular challenge you’ve faced while dealing with servers and storage, and the unique and innovative way you’ve solved the problem by participating in their Ultimate Tech Challenge: Servers. The premise is simple – answer the following question based on experience you’ve had on the job:How do you best use SSD as a storage option with Microsoft Windows Server for optimal performance and cost?

Dell and Microsoft will select their favorite response from those received and turn it into a white paper that highlights the problem and unique solution utilized to solve it. The selected winner will also receive a Dell XPS 12 (valued at $899.99) for being chosen!

Entering is easy – just share your challenge and solution by responding to this blog post or by emailing your response to

Submit your entry by 12/26/2013 at 11:59 p.m. CT. Dell and Microsoft will be reaching out to selected winners shortly after the entry submission period.

Good luck, IT pros! We look forward to your responses.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends 12/26/2013. By submitting your entry, you agree to be contacted by a Dell representative. For Official Rules, visit



Creating a vSphere Distributed Switch

by David Davis on September 12, 2012

This video explains the process for creating a vSphere distributed switch (vDS) in an advanced vSphere configuration lab. Starting with the base distributed switch, he talks about the main switch and the uplinks group; Here you’ll get an overview of how to create a new distributed switch, a free course lesson from vSphere Advanced Networking Training.

The course taught by VCDX Jason Nash covers many advanced vSphere topics, and this video is part of the entire distributed switch process. From design phases through the management capabilities, it’s all covered in the training.

If you’re interested in seeing some more virtual networking tutorials, check out this Cisco UCS guide on virtual server blade components, where some of the best advancing technologies are leading to some pretty cool things in the virtual networking world.


Cat5 Ethernet Cable Wiring

by David Davis on August 14, 2012

Wired network media is an essential concept for the CompTIA Network+ certification. Here’s some live video of Ed Liberman demonstrating how to terminate a Cat 5 ethernet cable so that you use the just the right amount of cable for the task.

Pick up some more networking basics with these tutorials:


Cisco UCS: Why Should I Learn It?

by David Davis on August 7, 2012

The Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) is a great example of cross-platform innovation having a direct impact on data centers. Here’s some advice from virtual networking expert Jason Nash (VCDX) on why you need to learn about evolving your datacenter with Cisco UCS.

Talk more about networking and virtualization with Jason Nash on Twitter and find cool tips and interviews on his virtualization blog.

If you’re heading to VMworld this summer be sure to make it out to Jason’s session on VMware vSphere distributed switch. His breakout session will be a technical deep-dive into the vDS deployment, configuration, troubleshooting and much more.


IPv4 vs IPv6: Limitations of IPv4

by David Davis on August 2, 2012

Here’s a cool video by CCIE Joe Rinehart explaining the limitations of using IPv4 as opposed to IPv6 from his Cisco CCNP training.

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Cisco CCNA Aspire Game

Mastering networking in preparation for the Cisco CCNA certification is challenging, especially for those new to the field. There’s a lot to learn and any hands-on experience you can get is the best thing you can do to prepare for the CCNA exam.

Earlier this year, Cisco launched the CCNA Aspire Game which allows CCNA candidates to prepare for the exam with scenario-based challenges that are based on real-world examples. The game is a great complement to instructor-led and video based training, like TrainSignal’s Cisco CCNA Training and will help you think on your feet as you sharpen your networking skills.

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VIDEO: Using VMware GO

by David Davis on December 3, 2009

Checkout my new video from Train Signal where I cover how to use VMware GO to install VMware ESXi, perform P2V conversions, and manage your ESXi virtual infrastructure.


Taking a look at the latest version of Microsoft’s Network Monitor – version 3.3. More specifically, looking at the new Windows 7 support and Network Experts features.

To read the full article, just visit- – Using the New Microsoft Network Monitor (netmon) 3.3 with Network Experts

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10 Ways to Troubleshoot DNS Resolution Issues

by David Davis on June 17, 2009

It is critical that DNS works on your desktop to do just about anything useful. So what do you do when it doesn’t work? In my latest post, I cover 10 ways to troubleshoot DNS Resolution issues.

Check out: 10 Ways to Troubleshoot DNS Resolution Issues

10 Ways to Troubleshoot DNS Resolution

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