Every network performance monitoring (NPM) solution allows companies to discover performance issues on your network as they occur. At the most basic level, your enterprise will know when your network is down and where performance issues are located. The more advanced network monitoring tools will be pumped with features that make performance tracking easier or more comprehensive. However, there are some features that are critical for a network monitoring solution to have.
What are the key features of network monitoring solutions? How do they help businesses monitor the performance of their network? Why should every network monitoring solution include them? Below, we’ve listed eight critical network monitoring features and capabilities that any solution worth its salt will have out-of-the-box.
If you’re looking for more information on network monitoring tools and vendors, our 2019 Network Monitoring Buyer’s Guide has you covered! It contains profiles on the 28 best network monitoring providers and tools in the market today, including descriptions of the tools they offer and noteworthy features of each. The guide also features 10 questions you should ask prospective vendors and yourself before buying a network monitoring solution. You can check out that guide here!
Real-time network performance updates and visualizations
At its core, network monitoring solutions will compile information on network performance metrics and display them visually for the user. In order to deliver actionable performance insights, your network monitoring solution needs to update these performance visualizations in real-time. By continuously changing performance metric visualizations to reflect how your network is currently performing, your enterprise is able to more accurately keep track of performance levels and discover problems.
Automatic network device discovery and mapping
Your network infrastructure is constantly changing as new devices and hardware are added. In order for your network monitoring solution to work properly, it needs to be able to discover new devices automatically. Otherwise, if that device suffers a malfunction or causes a performance issue, your enterprise might not be able to detect it. Most network monitoring solutions will draw network maps that display every piece of hardware connected to a network. These maps should automatically update to include new devices.
Intelligent performance alerts and notifications
When a network monitoring solution discovers a performance issue, it will alert your team to the issue through a notification system — usually SMS or email. While these alerts are helpful, your enterprise will benefit from a network monitoring tool that has intelligent alerting features. Tiered alerts, which separate performance issues based on how important or dangerous they are, allows your enterprise to address critical issues first before moving on to non-essential problems. It’s also helpful for your network team if alerts can be delayed until a specific time; this prevents alerts that happen when the office is closed from being lost or missed.
Performance issue diagnostics and root cause analysis
It isn’t enough just to know that there’s a problem with your network’s performance anymore; your company needs to know what the issue is and what’s causing it in order to properly deal with it. As network monitoring tools become more sophisticated, vendors are introducing data analytics and root cause analysis to help enterprises identify what’s happening on their network. With these features, your network monitoring solution can help you reduce the time between when a problem occurs and when your team fixes it.
User experience monitoring
Monitoring network performance from the end-user perspective is gaining ground as an important feature in network monitoring solutions. This is an approach to network monitoring that focuses on how your network is performing at endpoints, such as employee devices. Through functions such as end-user experience scoring, your network team can determine how satisfactory your user’s connections to the network are.
Business networks are growing larger and larger every day. Your network monitoring solution needs to be able to scale up and down as your network grows. Some network monitoring solutions can only handle a specific number of nodes and devices, especially if you have a free or cheaper version of the software. Ideally, your monitoring tool will be able to handle an unlimited number of devices; however, if it doesn’t, you should know beforehand how scalable your monitoring system is.
The dashboard is the interface your team uses to interact with a network monitoring program. There should be at least some level of customization in this dashboard to help your employees feel comfortable using it. Specifically, you should be able to determine which metrics you want to be displayed upfront and how you want to visualize them. If you prefer to completely rearrange the dashboard layout to your liking, some monitoring tools allow you to do that.
Automated performance issue remediation
Legacy network monitoring solutions focused solely on finding and alerting your enterprise to performance issues; they didn’t necessarily come equipped with the ability to apply fixes to them without user input. However, advances in network monitoring technology mean that modern tools can automatically deliver potential fixes to a performance problem after discovering it. This can reduce the amount of small, non-critical issues that your team has to deal with manually, assuming the solutions your tool uses work well enough.
Looking for a solution to help you improve your network performance? Our Network Monitoring Buyer’s Guide contains profiles on the top network performance monitor vendors, as well as questions you should ask providers and yourself before buying.
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