Network improvement is a broad term used in computer networking to indicate some increase in the general performance of the network. This can apply to speed and available throughout, as well as to latency issues that may inhibit network performance. The goal can be achieved via the implementation of additional software or hardware that adds performance-enhancing features to the network. Additionally, existing methodologies can be tweaked beyond their standard implementations to improve the network in various ways.
At the uppermost level to network improvement, management techniques have an important role to establishing performance requirements. At the outset, when planning a network implementation, a set of general goals is established which provides information for the initial deployment. Once the network is up and running, a collection of baseline data aids with further evaluating when, where, and how the network is experiencing performance hits. Through the use of this baseline data, the appropriate type of network improvement technique can be decided upon.
One of the most common ways to perform network improvement is through the various means of network traffic control. This essentially establishes rules for enabling or disabling network traffic depending on certain parameters. Load balancing servers are one example of this, which can be deployed to help deal with multiple requests to specific servers on a network by distributing the requests evenly among the available servers. Another technique that some network administrators employ is the setting of quotas for users or specific network addresses. Once a certain amount of bandwidth has been used up by a particular user, she is limited from consuming additional network resources by either throttling her usage down to lower limits or by being cut-off completely.
Other network traffic control techniques for network improvement involve packet-filtering methods. Here, the individual packets can be observed for various reasons, such as the network port they're directed to or the protocol they belong to. By observing the packets, they can then be grouped up and delivered according to a scheduling protocol. In this way, also referred to as traffic shaping, certain types of traffic, such as large downloads, can be given lower priority over another protocol such as those for email or web browsing.
Techniques known as transmission control protocol (TCP) tuning are also capable of achieving network improvement. One of the necessities for these techniques in this area involves increasing the buffers used for the traffic in transit. At any given time, depending on the network connection, a certain amount of data is somewhere in transit without being acknowledged. These packets go into a buffer known as the TCP receive window (RWIN). Increasing the size of the window allows for more TCP transmission to travel before acknowledgment is sent.
The use of virtual local area networks (VLAN) can provide yet another means for network improvement by separating out hosts that have similar needs. These computers may reside anywhere physically, but through a VLAN are given their own network to utilize. This way, the network switches can be programmed to direct traffic among these virtual sub-networks, thereby improving performance for the systems which belong to a particular VLAN.