I’m trying to be more pro-active with regard to monitoring the network at my workplace, addressing any issues that might arise, and answering that ever-present question: “My computer is
I’m the IT guy (largely self-taught) at a small non-profit organization. I had heard good things about a tool called SmokePing
, so I recently installed it. It certainly generates interesting-looking graphs, but I end up scratching my head and wondering what it all means.
See, for example, these five graphs
that I’ve combined into a single JPG file.
The host that’s shown at the bottom-right (labeled, “Frontier”) is the next hop after our fiber-optic modem. The other four hosts correspond to the cloud apps that we use in our daily operations. The graphs cover the same time span. We access the Internet through a fiber-optic line that's roughly 50 megabits/second down and 3 up. We don't host our website (or anything else) internally.
Here are some questions that occur to me:
- What is the meaning of the slowly-rising hump that’s present in Gmail, Blackbaud, and PetPoint? And why doesn’t it show up in CyberSource?
- I often see sharp, step-wise increases in latency, followed some hours later by sharp, step-wise decreases. What does this mean?
- The particular graphs I included with this post don’t indicate much packet loss, but I sometimes see spikes in both packet loss and latency (the spikes will typically last for a few hours). What am I to make of this? How can I tell if the problem is with our ISP, or something downstream of us? And at what point do I start complaining to our ISP?
- In general, what do I need to learn in order to make the best use of the information that SmokePing gives me?
I looked up some information on-line, and I also talked to a few guys who know more about this stuff than I do, but my friends and my on-line sources were not terribly helpful in terms of really
understanding what’s happening here.