When your business is evaluating network monitoring solutions, it helps to know the key features and capabilities to look for. Every monitoring tool worth its salt will allow enterprises to discover and learn about network performance issues, including where they are, what areas of the network they affect, and how to fix them. However, many tools come with extraneous capabilities that many businesses may not need, so how do you know which features to look for? That’s where we come in. Below, we’ve listed the seven key features to look for in any network monitoring solution.
If you’re looking for resources to help you evaluate network monitoring solutions, our free Network Monitoring Buyer’s Guide has you covered. It contains profiles on the top network monitoring providers 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. We also offer a buyer’s guide for free and open source network monitoring tools if you’re a small business or have a tighter budget but still want enterprise-grade monitoring for business networks. Download this guide here.
Real-time performance metrics
Network monitoring solutions, at their core, continuously observe a network to find and proactively report on performance issues. In order to successfully address those problems, the tool needs to deliver metrics on network performance in real-time. The sooner the solution delivers insights on how a user’s business network is functioning and how to fix series issues, the better.
Automatic device discovery
If a network monitoring tool hopes to be effective, it needs to have a clear picture of every single device and connection on a network. Network monitoring solutions must include device discovery capabilities that allow the platform to begin monitoring new nodes. Preferably, your network monitoring tool will automatically discover devices as they’re added to the network, saving users from having to manually sweep for added devices.
While half of a network monitoring solution’s job is to discover performance issues, the other (perhaps more important) half is alerting its users to the problem. Your monitoring tool needs to deliver intelligent real-time alerts on issues that it finds and notify the right network engineer or administrator. Alerts need to provide the right information, including location and severity, and prioritize more crucial problems.
Issue diagnosis and root cause analysis
To ensure that users are able to properly address network performance issues, network monitoring solutions need to provide diagnosis and root cause analysis on problems it discovers. That way, companies can save time on manually figuring out what the issue is and go straight to fixing the problem. Ultimately, this leads to users being able to tackle more network performance issues.
Since network monitoring tools have a picture of every device connected to a network, they’re able to draw a visual representation of what the network looks like. These network maps allow administrators to look at an abstraction of their network, which is essential for enterprises with sprawling, complex networks. The best network maps contain visual information on nodes and devices, letting users instantly see performance issues at a glance.
Modern network monitoring solutions typically come equipped with dashboards that display performance metrics, but depending on how much information the dashboard displays, it might be difficult to find the metrics important to your business. Customizable network monitoring dashboards allow users to determine what metrics they see and how they’re displayed, reducing the time wasted searching for relevant information.
Networks are not a static tool; many businesses constantly expand or consolidate networks to match company growth, and network devices are replaced constantly. As such, your network monitoring tool needs to be able to scale naturally alongside your network as it changes. Some network monitoring tools allow for an unlimited number of devices, but others may designate specific payment plans for networks with a certain number of nodes.
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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