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Understanding Network Latency

A common SLA requirement in network provisioning is ‘Network Delay’, with many Service Providers being required to give service credits against ‘poor’ performance of this metric.

This leads to the question of “How do you measure Network Delay?”. As the old adage states; ‘If you can’t measure it, then you can’t manage it’.

When creating a strategy for measuring Network Latency, one needs to keep in mind the ‘Observer Effect’. This means an understanding of the fact that what is being measured, is aff ected by the measuring itself.

Network delay is an important design and performance characteristic of a computer or telecommunications network. The delay of a network specifies how long it takes for a unit of data to travel across the network, from one node or endpoint to another. It is typically measured in multiples or fractions of seconds.

Delay may differ slightly, depending on the location of the specific pair of communicating nodes. Although users only care about the total delay of a network, engineers need to perform precise measurements. Thus, engineers usually report both the maximum and average delay, and they divide the delay into several parts:
  • Processing delay – time routers take to process the packet header
  • Queuing delay – time the packet spends in routi ng queues
  • Transmission delay – time it takes to push the packet’s bits onto the link
  • Propagati on delay – time for a signal to reach its desti nation

This white paper explains what network delay is, why it should be expected in a network environment, how it can be measured and what KedronUK, experts in Network Management, recommended as best practice for doing so.

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