Network performance monitors (NPMs) aren’t all made equally. Many NPMs come with their own special features that differentiate themselves from the rest. This makes sense considering that some NPMs are focused on monitoring performance from the end-user’s perspective while others attempt to optimize resource usage.
However, there are some features that every NPM should provide no matter what their main purpose is. These components are the basics of good network monitoring, and no NPM should operate without them. We’ve outlined 5 of the most important NPM capabilities and why they’re essential for every network monitoring software.
Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) provides a common framework for devices and network monitoring managers to communicate with each other. Most devices that can connect to a network, including switches, computers, and IoT devices, are compatible with SNMP. Because SNMP is so commonly supported, your NPM should support it as well. SNMP allows your monitoring tool to communicate with devices in a shared language to streamline device monitoring.
Bandwidth usage reporting
Bandwidth usage is one of the most important network statistics companies need to monitor. If your network is getting too close to the maximum rate of data transfer because of a single resource-intensive device, you need to be made aware of it. NPMs should provide reports on your bandwidth usage across the entire network on a regular basis. This should also extend to bandwidth testing, which your NPM should also support.
Networks are, more often than not, too huge to visualize in your head. That’s why network maps are so helpful; they create a visual representation of your network. Several NPMs feature network mapping and topography capabilities so you can clearly picture every connected device. The best NPMs, however, automatically update network maps in real-time (or at least on a scheduled basis). That way, you’re not forced to manually update the map every time you bring a new device onto the network.
It’s a good bet that your network is constantly growing to accommodate more and more hardware and connections. You want to ensure that your NPM can scale up or down alongside your network. If your NPM constantly updates to reflect the current state of your network, it’s a safe bet it will handle scalability well. Companies that run multiple networks must choose an NPM that can detect and fully monitor every network simultaneously. The last thing you want is for one area of your network to be unmonitored because the NPM won’t reach that scale.
Real-time notifications and alerting
Network issues can happen at any time, and your team needs to know about them as soon as possible. A good NPM notifies your workers of any problems as soon as they discover them so you can get straight to work fixing them. More sophisticated NPMs have the ability to filter alerts based on their potential impact on the network. This means that problems will be ranked on how important they are to fix; factors that are causing drastic performance issues can be addressed first.
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