Especially when you are managing an IT network with lots of users, devices, and applications. If performance drops, you will hear about it from your users sometimes before you notice the issues yourself!
This is where good network monitoring comes into play. With a network monitoring tool analyzing your network, you can spot problems early.
Monitoring a network allows you to visualize performance, dig into historical data, and see where the bottlenecks are, and fix them. All before the users or your customers are even aware.
Read our guide if you consider purchasing a network monitoring tool for your company but don’t know where to start. We will take you through what a network monitoring tool does and how it can help you.
Read on to find out how this nifty bit of software can help save your business money.
How Network Monitoring Tools Work
Essentially, network monitoring tools are designed to analyze a computer network and detect any issues before they become real problems. They monitor the traffic passing between devices and the activity of applications being used on those devices. If they indicate anything falling above or below set parameters, they will send an alert.
Your IT staff can also use a network monitor to diagnose a problem and give an underlying root cause. The network administrator can use this information to then troubleshoot any problems and restore service.
These tools can also offer cost-effective benefits to your IT business. If you have service level agreements (SLAs) with third-party suppliers, you need to track statistics. Network monitoring tools will allow you to do this so you can report back on SLAs with data and invoke penalties if required.
They also help your support and communications teams be more proactive when dealing with customers as to potential problems. Customers are more content when they are kept aware of issues. Some tools even have customer-facing dashboards where users can check information for themselves.
Finally, proper network monitoring will allow your IT architecture team to identify weak points and bottlenecks that may be causing issues on your network. They can then upgrade the system architecture proactively to provide a better service.
Types of Tools Available
The types of tools you will need will depend on the size and style of your network.
There are many different types of networks. Some are wired, some are wireless, and most are a mix of the two. Some more complex networks may involve software or devices based in the cloud.
Depending on the size of your enterprise, you may require different types of network monitoring tools. Not all tools will suit every network. If you are a small to medium business, you will have different requirements from a large enterprise.
Also, you need to consider whether you want your tool to be hosted on-site at your business location or in the cloud at a third-party location.
Performance and availability monitoring tools are usually enough for a small to medium-sized business. Large enterprises need scalable solutions that can grow and include much more comprehensive tools.
For example, if you are running a large enterprise-level wifi network, you may need to look at something like this wifi solution rather than the SMB options.
There are lots of options to choose from. For SMBs, there are even options that offer free versions depending on the size of your network.
So big or small, local of SAAS, you will be able to find a network monitoring solution to suit your business.
Network Monitoring Tool Features
So, what kinds of features make for the best network monitoring tools? Every system is different, but here are some of the key elements a basic tool should have to be able to efficiently monitor your network.
First things first, your network monitoring tool needs to be easy to install and set up within your network. It should come with good third-party support from the vendor and should be compatible with the most commonly used software and network hardware.
The interface should include a web-based admin dashboard with clear alerts and graphs for easy monitoring. Alerts should be easily configurable so that you can set them up to monitor for what you precisely need to be analyzed.
It should have autodiscovery as a minimum and be able to generate network topology maps, ideally within the dashboard. This makes it much easier to visualize problems and identify what services will be affected.
Application-aware network tools are preferred as they will be able to distinguish between problems with software and hardware. It should be able to detect response times in applications on the network to identify any slow-downs for users.
A good modern network monitoring tool should have support for both IPv6 and IPv4 as standard.
Finally, you want a service that will provide your administrators with lots of log data they can drill down into. The ability to look into historical data trends and identify issues will greatly assist them in keeping the network in great shape.
Choosing the Best Network Monitoring Tool for You
Once you have a good idea of the features you deem essential in a network monitoring tool, you can start to speak to suppliers. Remember, whether you want it on-site or in the cloud, you should have plenty to choose from.
Make sure you discuss the impact the tool itself will have on your network. Installing a tool and monitoring the network is all about improving the overall performance of your network. You do not want your tool to become the blockage in the pipe.
Above all else, make sure your network monitoring tool is capable of scaling alongside your business. Whether you are a small to medium-sized business or a large enterprise, you need to find a tool that grows as you do.
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