October 07, 2001

Why is Size Distribution Important?

Q: "Why is Size Distribution important?"

A: Almost every network analysis tool has a graph or table displaying the size of packets grouped into a distribution of size ranges. These displays show the total number of frames or bytes, and help to provide an analysis of traffic patterns over time. As traffic pattern sizes change, the size distribution display will show the severity of the change.

During a file transfer, the smallest distribution and largest distribution packet values should be relative to each other. That's because the large packets during the file transfer are acknowledged by the receiving station. If you're using a protocol to transfer the file that doesn't require acknowledgements, then you won't see this pattern in the size distribution table.

But how can the size distribution display provide assistance? Examine packet size distributions during `normal' network activity in the size distribution display. File transfers and backups can change the perspective of network traffic, and the size distribution can provide feedback on network efficiency. If a backup or file transfer is active, the number of the largest and smallest distributions should increase in response to the large number of data frames and acknowledgements. If the 1024-1518 sized packets aren't increasing with large data transfers, then the maximum packet sizes may need to be optimized.

Posted by james_messer at October 7, 2001 05:53 PM

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