Network performance is one of the topics that most IT managers find difficult to address particularly where it is difficult to identify service degradation problems. Simply put, how do you address a problem without knowing its genesis?
Even then, in today’s interconnected world, network managers need to identify the areas that present obstacles to provision of optimized services. This is where network performance monitoring comes in as you are able to address the potential causes of service degradation. Network monitoring will particularly contribute towards protecting company infrastructure as it will not only maximize efficiency but also alert you to potential security breaches when there is an impending outage that is costly and devastating.
Moreover, with a powerful monitoring software, you are able to save on time that you would have otherwise spent monitoring routers, switches, servers as well as other devices. A good network monitoring will remove the need to spend hours thereby giving you peace regardless of where you may be. Should potential issues arise, you will be notified before the problem escalates.
Choosing a Network Monitoring Tool
The choice of a network monitoring software is crucial to ensuring better performance of all the components of your network without pressing a demand on your time. Here are some of the factors that you need to consider when selecting the best network monitoring tool:
A Combination of Software and Hardware that Watches the Network from End to End
A comprehensive network monitoring tool should be able to monitor, detect as well as analyze devices as well as software in real time thus letting the administrator respond on the basis of alerts and warnings.
The Network-Monitoring Tool should Facilitate Proactive Strategies
Besides keeping track of the overall performance of the network, network monitoring is able to facilitate proactive strategies like infrastructure upgrades or justification of the cost of hardware that will do away with network bottlenecks. In instances where the service provider oversees sections of network connectivity, then network monitoring may be used to enforce service level agreements (SLAs) that indicate the level of service a provider agrees to meet. When IT managers do not have a clear insight on the performance of their networks, then enforcing SLAs becomes difficult. Network monitoring increases customer satisfaction while significantly reducing helpdesk calls and subsequent follow-ups.
Features of the Network-Monitoring Tool
Your monitoring tool should be moderately easy to configure and implement. It should also be able to accommodate devices from multiple vendors. The tool that you settle for should at least have auto discovery function, device and node inventorying, configurable and automatic warnings and trouble alerts that are all tied to a web-based interface that is centralized. This should include a dashboard complete with tables and graphs that are easy to read thus providing varied views of the status of your network. A network topology map is also essential and commands for modification of network settings as well as troubleshooting issues.
It is also important to consider the network-monitoring approaches. This may be an agentless or agent-based approach. Network-monitoring tools usually use sensors or agents that not only collect but also transmit data to the management console for it to be analyzed. For the agentless product, they are designed to have little or no impact on the existing processes. Agents need various resources to run that can affect performance.
Most, even though not all, network-monitoring approaches are application aware meaning they can monitor and detect all services and applications operating across the network. This is an ideal benefit as it helps administrators understand whether the performance problem stems from the application or the network. A network-monitoring tool that is aware of the network enables IT staff to track the response time in detail, taking into any account network request, server processing and the network response.
The Ability to Spot Trends
A good network-monitoring tool needs to possess the ability to spot trends that include historical trends as well as what is expected. This is particularly useful to the technical staff. Trend data enables administrators to look at the performance of the network data even as trend predictions offer insight into the future performance of the network on the basis of past behavior.
Overall, it is advisable that you go for a network monitoring tool that is comprehensive and is not only able to meet your needs today but can also be scaled for the future in the event of network expansion.
Kevin Patel is a Service Assurance Technology Analyst at Xangati. A self-proclaimed tech geek, with a passion for the ever-changing world of virtualized and hybrid-cloud environments. Kevin has a passion for dissecting tech topics such as virtualization, data center migration, storage, networking and cloud. On his days off, he can be found watching sci-fi movies, rock climbing or volunteering.