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What is network monitoring software?
Network monitoring software is a solution that helps evaluate IT infrastructure performance and internet traffic over an organization's network to optimize IT resource utilization. IT also monitors connected servers and other peripherals on a continuous, real-time basis to anticipate possible issues. In addition, it helps to identify abnormalities in the network and take strategic actions to minimize or avoid any damage.
The benefits of network monitoring software
Network monitoring software not only helps in maintaining proper network continuity, it also keeps IT infrastructure and business data safe from external threats. A lack of network monitoring software or poor execution of a monitoring solution can lead to unexpected crashes, data leaks, and slow device performance, among other issues.
Network monitoring software offers such benefits as:
- Complete IT infrastructure monitoring: Network monitoring software offers single-window visibility into all IT equipment and accessories used by an organization. This allows administrators to monitor the performance of individual equipment along with the complete network. This is helpful in scenarios where shutting down one piece of equipment can save the entire network.
- Smooth network operations: Network monitoring software helps businesses stay engaged with customers through smooth and uninterrupted network operations. Network administrators can even send advance notice to employees as well as external stakeholders if they plan to temporarily shut down the network for maintenance and upgrades. This helps businesses to meet their service-level agreements and offer services as promised.
- Traffic monitoring: With features like bandwidth analysis and throttling, network monitoring solutions help administrators better utilize their network bandwidth and run apps more smoothly. They can track disruptive apps, identify employees that are wasting bandwidth on non-official work, analyze past bandwidth utilization to predict future needs, etc.
Typical features of network monitoring software
- Bandwidth monitoring: Measure the bandwidth usage of all the IT assets and resources connected to a network.
- Dashboard: Monitor network performance on an interactive interface and gather real-time insights.
- Server monitoring: Scan both physical and virtual servers connected to a network and flag any abnormalities.
- Network diagnosis: Scan, diagnose, and report network problems, identify their root cause, and implement best practices to mitigate them.
- Internet usage monitoring: Track internet usage by each employee and resource in a shared network.
- IP address monitoring: Monitor IP addresses of incoming traffic and take preventative measures against unidentified or malicious sources.
Considerations when purchasing network monitoring software
- Full-suite solution versus individual module: Large enterprises generally go for a broader network management suite that can manage network performance, configurations, and security layouts in addition to network monitoring. Such suites offer more features but are also pricier, especially from a small business or startup point of view. A simple network monitoring solution can perform most of the needed functions for small and midsize businesses at a reasonable cost. These businesses should invest in individual modules that address their specific needs rather than opting for a broad network monitoring coverage.
- Open source versus proprietary software: Open source solutions are often available for no charge and are preferable for businesses with full-fledged IT teams to do in-house customizations. On the other hand, proprietary software is offered on a subscription basis, often without the option to customize on the user's end. Businesses need to evaluate their IT competencies and then choose the type of network monitoring software that fits best.
Relevant network monitoring software trends
- Rise of internet of things (IoT) will demand intelligent network monitoring software: The IoT is now being used by many businesses for day-to-day operations. IoT connections will rise in the coming years and so will the traffic coming from them. This can generate new problems for network administrators. Vendors such as Domotz are working on creating intelligent remote network monitoring software that can support the ad hoc needs of IoT devices.
- Software-defined networking (SDN): SDN allows network administrators to create more agile and flexible networks without changing the physical setup, simply by changing network configurations. This process is an upgrade from the traditional architecture, in which individual devices make traffic decisions based on their configured routing tables. In the coming years, businesses will be adopting more SDN architecture to make their networks more flexible.