Through closer monitoring of its network traffic over the past year, the ASB bank has been able to expand the capacity of links between branch and datacentre where this is warranted. The bank has also been able to decrease bandwidth on links where it was not being fully utilised, says ASB’s network manager.
The chief tool that has enabled the bank to do this is Fluke Networks’ Net Flow Tracker, installed by local distributor MPA with the help of Axon.
After trials, the software was installed at all 150 ASB branches and the bank’s two main datacentres by late 2008.
“What we had previously would generate overall reports on network utilisation, but not identify what the network was being used for,” says Richard Lockwood, senior manager of network support.
“The Net Flow Tracker lets us drill down to the protocol, so we can see how much of the traffic is web-access, how much is mail, FTP, bank applications and so on.”
The Tracker software is installed on a server and uses the information routinely collected by routers and switches on the network.
It is also used to track traffic to the Fastnet on-line banking website and other customer-facing web applications, monitoring efficiency of response and which parts of the sites are getting the heaviest traffic.
Data is also accumulated over time, to track improvement or deterioration in performance.
“Wide-area network spend is a significant proportion of the ICT budget,” says Mark Micklefield, business development manager at MPA. In these days of costs constantly being trimmed and ICT managers being pressured to do more at less cost, detailed network monitoring can be crucial, he says.
Until recently, he says, deep analysis blew out the size of the database and so did not scale up to large networks, particularly where historical data was being retained. But newer database techniques aimed specifically at management of network performance have alleviated this problem.