Best Practices for Network Monitoring

In the world of eCommerce, remote offices, and mobile users, your network is one of the most important components of your organization’s infrastructure. Without a viable and functioning network communication between you and your prospective customers is virtually impossible. Slow or degraded network performance will drive potential clients away as they wait to access your systems.

Your network is also the key to intra-company communication and the ability of your internal systems to operate at peak efficiency. Network latency can cause your employees to pull their hair out and will definitely lead to a loss in productivity. If your enterprise uses Internet of Things (IoT) devices for industrial applications it adds another vital reason why you need to be concerned about your network performance.

The Complexities and Importance of Modern Computer Networks

Computer networks are nothing new. They have been around since shortly after computers were first introduced. It quickly became evident that having a powerful computing machine which required users to be physically present to use it was pointless. Networking quickly became an important part of implementing a computer system that could be used productively.

The first wave of networks were primarily self-contained entities designed to serve the needs of an organization’s internal users. They were constructed by cabling devices together and issues that impacted their performance could usually be identified and resolved onsite. Outages impacted employees, and though productivity might suffer, in most cases there was no long-term damage to the company involved.

Modern networks are of greater importance to a business than in the past. They are also exponentially more complex and hard to manage. A typical corporation may have an internal wired network as well as wireless capability to serve specific purposes. The network may not be controlled by the organization that employs it, as cloud-based networks are becoming increasingly popular. In these cases, the performance of your network may be the responsibility of your cloud provider.

The immense reliance of modern companies on networks to connect with their customers combined with the additional complexity of today’s implementations make it more important than ever that you can quickly identify and take corrective action when problems arise. Network monitoring can be an essential tool in maintaining this vital corporate resource.

Common Network Problems

Any number of problems can creep up in your network and lead to degraded performance and unhappy users. The ones that network professionals are most likely to encounter include:

Slow network speeds - This is probably the biggest problem faced by network administrators on a daily basis. Though the problem may be familiar, the root cause of the issue can be extremely hard to pinpoint. With your network equipment potentially spread out among various locations, the ability to quickly narrow down the issue to a specific part of the network can be instrumental in resolving it.

Network attacks - Your network is the vehicle that hackers will use in attempts to gain access to your systems and data. The infrastructure also might be attacked in a purely malicious way that does not try to gain entry but cripples the network's capabilities. Distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks fall into this category and can cause financial harm to the affected organization.

Inconsistent WiFi signal strength - This issue can be caused by many different issues within the coverage area and may be hard to diagnose without some trial and error experimentation.

Damaged cables or equipment - It can be difficult to trace your network issue to a faulty piece of equipment without adequate monitoring which can alert you to the issue and point to its origin.

Best Practices for Network Monitoring

Monitoring your network is best done in a structured manner if you want to achieve demonstrable results. Several preliminary steps should be taken when implementing network monitoring.

Inventory and understand your network -  To address problems impacting your network you need to understand how it is constructed. Having an updated inventory of the network components that comprise its infrastructure is also critically important. An inventory and mapping of your network provide a baseline from which informed decisions can be made when a problem strikes.

Configure the monitoring tool - Proper configuration of your network monitor will result in a more valuable utility that will produce tangible results. Setting alerts incorrectly can lead to a flood of irrelevant warnings. If this behavior persists, the monitoring will soon be ignored and defeat the purpose for which it was implemented in the first place.

Define processes - Monitoring should trigger a pre-defined response when warranted. It should also be able to handle the demands involved in making changes or upgrades to the network components. Well defined change and management procedures will include temporarily halting alerts generated from equipment that is being serviced or replaced.

A Robust Tool for Monitoring Your Network

A Network monitoring tool is not a trivial application. To truly be useful in tuning and securing a network it needs to provide a wide range of functionality. IDERA’s Uptime Infrastructure Monitor is a tool that aptly fits this description. It’s a comprehensive monitoring application which can help you streamline your network’s performance.

This powerful tool is easy to use and includes features like the Auto-Discovery Wizard that gives you a head start on building your network inventory. Monitor all of your devices from a single interface and design custom dashboards for more informative viewing. Create charts and graphs of historical data to better understand capacity and growth issues. Customizable alerts and escalation policies can be automated to inform the correct personnel when outages need to be addressed.

If you take your network seriously you should use a serious monitoring tool to keep it running smoothly. You can’t go wrong by choosing Uptime Infrastructure Monitor.

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