Network Monitoring Tools


Definition
The network is the lifeblood of any business, so monitoring and optimizing network performance is essential. IT cannot rely on guesswork to successfully execute such an endeavor. Achieving the desired results requires network performance monitoring.

Network monitoring tools allow organizations to baseline the network performance of their hardware and software infrastructure. With a baseline of nominal operations in hand, IT is positioned to recognize and respond to conditions that can negatively impact network performance and threaten the user community’s productivity and quality of experience.

Applications
Adverse conditions can arise due to planned or unanticipated events that drive change. For planned activities, IT can leverage the network performance baseline to simulate and test the effects of proposed modifications, such as the introduction of new users or applications, and determine if the current network architecture is adequate or requires reconfiguration or upgrade. When unexpected scenarios unfold, network performance monitoring tools can alert IT to deviations from the nominal baseline so corrective action can be initiated.

The goal of network performance monitoring tools is to provide a depiction of operations so potential problems can be proactively avoided, and anomalies that do occur can be detected, isolated, and resolved with a minimum mean-time-to-repair. Unfortunately, the network monitor function is often siloed by geography, department, service, or network layer, which inhibits realizing the objective.

Key Considerations
The ideal network performance monitoring tools are comprehensive. Network monitoring tools must have breadth, meaning they are scalable and robust enough to accommodate an end-to-end perspective across the enterprise, even for large organizations. Network performance monitoring tools also must possess depth, with the capability to span all seven layers of the network stack. Without both dimensions, IT is severely restricted in its efforts to identify the location of the problem, and to pinpoint if the root cause of the problem lies in an application, a system/server, or in a core network element such as a router or switch.

Perhaps more significantly, a comprehensive network performance monitoring tool promotes the resolution of more complex anomalies. Straightforward, linear degradations are often obvious, but intermittent issues are far more challenging to address. Likewise, while some problems may manifest themselves on the network, the source of the trouble may reside outside the enterprise’s domain – with a service provider. These types of anomalies simply cannot be brought to closure quickly by point solutions.

Superior network performance can be attained thanks to network management and monitoring tools, but only if the tools account for the following key considerations:

  • Horizontal breadth (the software has an end-to-end purview throughout the enterprise)
  • Vertical depth (the software traverses all seven layers of the network to incorporate application, server, and network performance data)
  • Real-time and back-in-time views (the software can display and assess current and historical information to find the root cause of problems that arise intermittently)
  • Comprehensive interfaces (the software offers a centralized repository from all data sources so IT can leverage easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and reports to speed accurate problem resolution)
 
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