In today’s fast-paced IT environment, the need to keep your network up and running and safe from security threats is more crucial than before. Hence, your enterprise’s network operations center needs to be paired with an above grade network monitoring system.
With all these promising benefits from a network monitoring software, it is imperative to choose one for your own. However, choosing the best network monitoring system is not a breeze. There are several things to consider before finding the one that best suits your business.
Here’s a quick guide to choosing a network monitoring system for your business.
What to Look For in a Network Monitoring System
- Intuitive and User-friendly Interface
Usability and design, while irrelevant in terms of the function of your NMS, are important features you should consider. The graphical interface and dashboards must be easy to navigate and use while giving administrators a holistic overview of the network environment.
This advantage is achieved with the use of visual aides like tables, charts and graphs. But you can boost this user-friendly feature if the system is customizable, if administrators can move icons and panels around, change background and color. All these makes an NMS intuitive and user-friendly.
- Multi-Vendor support
Most of today’s network environments include devices from a variety of vendors e.g HP, Cisco, etc. Hence, when choosing a network monitoring system, make sure it supports devices from different manufacturers. This cost-effective feature can help you save cost from purchasing individual monitoring tools for vendor-specific devices.
- Network Discovery and Visibility
You want your NMS to discover all devices on your network from the start of its deployment henceforth. The ability to discover all the devices and show interconnections among and between them are two important features you need for your network monitoring system. Particularly, Layer 2 & 3 visibility is crucial in times of troubleshooting network problems.
- Customizable Intelligent Alerting
You’re one step ahead when you receive alerts immediately in case of network issues and glitch escalations. Hence, look for a network monitoring system that includes customizable and intelligent alerting that only notifies you about crucial or critical issues and does away with inconsequential conditions or false-positives. And you want it customizable so you can only receive and send out alerts that matter to your business.
- Real-time, Agentless, Remote monitoring
These are the three intertwining characteristics you want to have for your network monitoring. An up-to-date monitoring that you can keep an eye on at work or from home is the best network monitoring system for your organisation. It should analyze metrics like uptime, disk space, CPU, and latency in real-time, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The information you want should be available to you anytime and anywhere. With systems using network protocols like SNMP and ICMP, you won’t need to install agents to gather your monitoring data.
In brief, an up-to-date monitoring (real-time) that does not require agents to collect data (agentless) which is accessible from any location (remote) is an absolute necessity.
In a fast paced industry, you want your network monitoring system to cope with the growth of your network. You should know the load limit that your NMS can handle and the options you have when you reach that limit. A scalable NMS is what you want for your business to be able to support the growth of your network environment. It should scale up in times of increased network traffic or device count and other contingencies.
- Ease of Deployment
Why spend time and resources for expensive integration and long winding deployment if you can choose a network monitoring system that’s quick to deploy without the need for technical support? Note that the faster you deploy the NMS, the faster you can get your return on investment. Moreover, it also should do its job the moment you successfully installed it: devices are discovered and mapped and monitoring starts.
What to Determine
After considering all these, there are still a few things you need to determine before you buy your NMS. Here’s a quick rundown of things that should help you make the best decision:
The scope of the monitoring solutions must be determined depending on your business needs. The network monitoring system that you should choose should fit the setup of your business, the IT loads and such. Here are some of the questions you have to ask:
- Is the NMS required to monitor multiple sites?
- Does it need to monitor all network devices along with the servers?
- Does it have to monitor the virtual environment?
These are only some of the important questions you want to ask. The more you know about your network needs, the easier for you to choose an option that fits perfectly for your network environment needs.
On or Off-premise?
Another question to ask is if it is capable of managing the monitoring system. If not, you can opt for an off-premise NMS that’s managed by a third-party administrator from their own site. If you need a more granular monitoring and have the capacity to manage it well, opt for an on-site monitoring system.
Buy, Rent, or Build?
Finally, after considering all these that we mentioned, the option to buy, rent or build your own monitoring system is in your hand. Each enterprise is different and there are specific requirements that you may have. For those with strict security requirement, you may opt to buy an on-premise NMS or build your own. If your enterprise lacks resources to run and maintain a monitoring system, you can outsource this product and service from vendors. Lastly, if you have a complex network environment that needs strict compliance, a build your own NMS is the better option.
With all these things under your belt, you have a better chance of choosing the best option for your network environment.
Darrell Smith is a data / cybersecurity news junkie. He spends most of his time surfing the web for the latest data and network operations center trends. He also shares his recent findings through his articles and other blog posts.