What Is Network Monitoring? A Definition and Beginner’s Guide

What Is Network Monitoring? A Definition and Beginner's Guide

Enterprise networks are becoming more complex every day in order to meet the rising demand for digital business solutions. Most business processes can be accomplished with software which typically requires a network to transmit data across a business infrastructure. Enterprises need its network is performing quickly and efficiently, and they can use a network monitoring solution to do so. However, many enterprises not familiar with how network monitoring works might be asking: what is the definition of network monitoring?

That’s why we at Solutions Review have put together this piece on the definition on network monitoring: what is it, what does it accomplish, and why should a business implement it? This piece is meant to be a basic overview of what network monitoring is for those who are completely unaware of the term. Our goal is to educate enterprises and IT professionals on why network monitoring is important and how their business can start using it.

What is the definition of network monitoring?

A network monitoring tool is either hardware or software that continuously observes your network and the data flowing through it. Depending on how the solution actually monitors a network, it may capture data directly from the network as it passes by or collect data stored by a network node. The solution then interprets the data and displays it via a dashboard on your device. With a network monitoring tool, you can easily visualize your network’s performance from one location.

The monitoring tool will detect issues with the network, such as signs that indicate that a part of your network is about to fail. It will then alert your IT team to the problem so they can get straight to work fixing it. In essence, a network monitoring solution helps your enterprise keep your network in check and makes sure that a network is operating as well as it should be.

Why is it important?

Most network monitoring solutions observe a network in real-time. This means it can catch and alert you to performance issues before your network team discovers it themselves. Reducing the time between when a problem happens and when your enterprise learns about it is crucial to effectively troubleshoot network performance issues. You’ll also know about every performance problem on your network, especially those that are undetectable to network teams. Even if an issue only marginally affects performance, it could cascade into something much bigger. As such, you want to be aware of any performance issue that is dragging your network down.

I want to try a network monitoring solution. Where should I start?

If you’ve read this far and decided that a network monitoring solution is right for your business, you’ll no doubt want to know how to get started with one. There are plenty of monitoring tools on the market, but how do you determine which one is best for you? We’ve assembled a buyer’s guide for network monitoring solutions that acts as a resource for enterprises looking to integrate a network monitoring tool. It contains profiles on the top network monitoring vendors, as well as questions your enterprise should ask providers and itself before buying. (You can view that buyer’s guide here.)

However, we believe the best way to see which solution will work for you is to simply try them out. Most network monitoring vendors offer free trials of their software, allowing you to experience the full solution without spending anything. These free trials are also a great way to test out the features and complexities of each solution; that way, you’ll gain a hands-on perspective for each tool your enterprise is considering.

Free and open source network monitoring

You may also want to consider network monitoring tools that are either free or open source. These monitoring solutions are either 100% free to use or shared under an open license. These tools are usually more limited than premium software or are designed more for personal networks. They also may only focus on one or two monitoring functions rather than being a comprehensive monitoring suite. However, they’re an excellent resource for enterprises looking to dip their feet into network monitoring before they purchase a business-level solution.


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.

Check us out on Twitter for the latest in Network Monitoring news and developments!

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