What Is Network Mapping and How Does It Help Network Performance?

What Is Network Mapping and How Does It Help Network Performance?

Here’s a question: how do you envision your network? What do you imagine your network looks like? Are you absolutely certain you can picture every component on your network just in your head? Most probably can’t – or won’t try because they know it’s nearly impossible.

That’s where network maps come in. Network mapping visually outlines your network and every device connected to it. Many network performance monitors (NPMs) come equipped with a tool that generates or displays network maps. These maps provide easy-to-understand graphics that show you how the devices on your network are performing. Why are network maps important, and how do they help you monitor your network performance? There are three key areas where network maps can help you improve your network performance.

Network visualizations

It can be difficult to picture the entire scope of your network. Plotting out every connected device requires the ability to interpret it abstractly. You also need to be able to map your network in real-time to account for new devices. If there are devices connecting and disconnecting all the time, this can be impossible.

Having a network map allows you to visualize your network and everything associated with it. Through a network map, every device currently connected to your network is visually represented. Most network mapping tools automatically generate maps based on periodic scans, keeping your network visualization regularly up-to-date. Some programs even allow you to customize how your map looks, giving you control over how you want your map to look.

Though most network maps are created through automation, there are also static network maps are created by IT teams manually. These, however, have their disadvantages. While you can visualize your network any way you want, you won’t be able to adapt to any changes that occur without manually inputting them. Depending on the scale of your network, this cuts significantly into time that could be spent addressing network problems.

Device monitoring

Many network mapping tools not only visualize your network, but can also show you where problems originate if they occur. Network maps interpret data gathered by NPMs and change their visualizations to reflect network and device statuses. For example, devices that are running optimally will be shown in a different color than devices that are causing problems.

Most mapping software, especially those incorporated in NPMs, allow you to examine each device from the map. You can view details of every device by simply clicking on its image on the map. Thus, you can conveniently see the particulars of any device that you want to monitor closely. You can see not only the IP address and serial number of devices, but also bandwidth usage. This can help you determine whether or not a device is worth examining further if it appears to be a problem.

Network issue diagnosis

Depending on the tool, network maps can alert you when problems like excess traffic or networks going down occur. By checking your map, you can instantly see what devices are having problems, which will help you quickly figure out where the issue is coming from. Some mapping tools have automation features to instantly address detected problems.

Seeing the condition of connected devices visually is also useful for determining areas of your network that need strengthening. You may discover potential bottlenecks or places for chokepoints by visually analyzing your network and its devices.

Network maps can be one of the most important tools in an IT team’s arsenal. They’re handy in helping you visually recognize every aspect of your network. Seeing devices on your network in real-time allows you to see any problems as they develop. With network mapping, IT professionals don’t have to imagine where the issues might be happening. They can observe firsthand where the problem is coming from, allowing them to deal with it quickly and efficiently.

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Daniel Hein

Dan is a tech writer who writes about Enterprise Cloud Strategy and Network Monitoring for Solutions Review. He graduated from Fitchburg State University with a Bachelor's in Professional Writing. You can reach him at dhein@solutionsreview.com
Daniel Hein

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