As a backbone network engineer or architect for a service provider, you know that no matter the size of your organization, your network is not a static entity. Rather, it is constantly evolving – new POPs are being added, new services are being offered, new customers with stringent SLA’s are being serviced, smartphones are roaming in and out of different regions, you are expanding into new geographies and mergers and acquisitions are occurring. All of these changes can contribute to unforeseen traffic loads on the network.
In addition to the constant change occurring on daily basis, service providers are constantly trying to get the most performance out of their equipment and networks. And it has to be accomplished without compromising availability and reliability. This means that capacity planning engineers need to know exactly when and how much they can push their infrastructures without impacting QoS and their customers. This “balancing act” requires intimate knowledge of current traffic, existing bandwidth and the delta between the two, as well as the historical data that will indicate trends over time.
Lead or Lag
Capacity planning is not a simple exercise. Most backbone engineering teams are still following a manual process that includes collecting data from diverse sources in different formats, importing the data into internally developed tools or spreadsheets and then analyze the information to develop their capacity plan. This monthly process is labor and time intensive and potentially inaccurate. It can propel you into one of two courses.
You can anticipate the growth in traffic and build capacity beforehand, or wait until capacity is exceeded and then deal with upset customers and subscribers. Unfortunately, either of these strategies will still result in the necessity of a capital expenditure of a significant magnitude.
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