Today more than ever, an unreliable data network can literally bring a business to a standstill. For instance, if the systems attached to your network can't get an IP address by using Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol DHCP , then they won't be able to communicate with any other system. Similarly, if Domain Name System DNS isn't functioning properly, then your systems won't be able to look up the address of any system on the internet.
The way in which you manage bandwidth and network utilization will directly affect the productivity of all users connected to your corporate network.
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To help you, we've tested and compared 10 of the top network monitoring software solutions available today. Most are cloud-based and all of them can help you keep your users connected and your network pipes safe. Some of those services cross over into the category of infrastructure due to the criticality of the service. Monitoring services such as DNS then becomes more of an infrastructure management issue as opposed to a network consideration.
DHCP probably fits the same description, although the managing of a DHCP service would be something for which a network administrator would typically be responsible. SNMPv2 and SNMPv3 have, for the most part, replaced the initial version and have seen widespread adoption across a variety of platforms. A key consideration for network management tools should be how they use SNMP to accomplish their tasks. If you really want to know what's happening on your network, then you'll need to learn something about network flows. NetFlow was originally introduced for Cisco routers, providing the ability to analyze IP network traffic entering or exiting a specific interface.
Flow data is sent to a collection point typically a system running a database to make query-based analysis easier. Other switch manufacturers followed suit, along with other similar sampling tools such as sFlow. A large number of networking hardware vendors including Arista Networks, Brocade Communications Systems, Hewlett-Packard, and others provide native sFlow support.
You can find a full description of sFlow under RFC A number of key features stand out as specific needs to adequately fulfill the role of network management. For one, from an administrator's perspective, it's nice to have visual graphics that give you a quick overview of the current system status. Having the ability to tweak the arrangement of graphical elements on a dashboard is an added plus.
Providing a mechanism to alert someone of a problem is necessary across the board.
Keeping track of statically assigned addresses, along with a large number of DHCP pools, can't be adequately managed with a manual system. Integrating IPAM with a network management tool just makes sense as the same person quite frequently handles both functions.
Automation is the key to managing large numbers of devices. The more you can automate small administration tasks, the more efficient the process becomes. Automated alerting and repair fall into this category and represent a key differentiator between products. Add to that the ability to remotely connect to your monitoring system, and you have the makings of a solid product. Software-Defined Networking SDN is a hot topic and not without a significant level of confusion—unless you happen to be either a vendor or a technologist with a vested interest.
At a very high level, the term SDN is used to describe the functional separation of the network control plane and the forwarding plane, making it possible to dynamically configure data paths for optimum performance. None of these products really get into SDN, except at the top level of monitoring the performance of a switch. In this roundup, we call out several areas to help focus the evaluation. While installation and setup is something you really only do once, it's still an area of interest.
For the network management category, the initial configuration may include making changes to your switches in order to enable the transmission of NetFlow or sFlow data. Changes to production switches typically require a significant amount of justification and approval prior to implementation. It would be prudent to prove any of these test methods on a small test network before moving onto any larger environment.
That being said, we used an HP Procurve managed switch as the primary sFlow source.
Enabling sFlow on the switch required the entry of a number of commands at the switch command line interface CLI over an SSH connection. We also had to upgrade the switch firmware to the latest version for everything to work correctly. At least one product ManageEngine OpManager provided a script to enable sFlow along with a one-page "how-to" document to do that for you. From an administrator's perspective, the user interface UI must be easy to navigate and customize. It should quickly present any problem areas and allow an operator to drill down for more specifics without a huge number of clicks.
The customization of the UI and management of features must not require a programmer to make it properly work. Alerting is a basic requirement, with the ability to customize the priority and delivery an equally important feature. Reporting should be equally as easy to administer. Creating a new report with a query specific to the information of interest should not require a database administrator. Extra points are given here for useful graphics and multiple export formats.
Role-based access may not be a big deal for a small organization but it would be for a group with multiple IT administrators.
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The bottom line with network management is to keep the network smoothly functioning, with an eye on overall usage. Having the ability to see trends and potential problems can help stave off any future problems and add value to any product. The first step for any IT project is to define the requirements. For network management tools, the foundational pieces include the ability to see detailed information about key pieces of hardware such as switches and routers.
Automated alerting and remediation would be a key requirement in that case to help reduce the administrative manpower required. Datadog is a cloud monitoring as a service provider that allows IT teams to monitor their entire infrastructure, including servers, networks, cloud deployments, and applications. The Datadog monitoring tool unifies IT service and technology monitoring, giving enterprises a holistic view of how their network, services, applications, and deployments are performing. LogicMonitor is a SaaS-based performance monitoring platform that features comprehensive server monitoring.
The solution automatically discovers all network devices and interfaces, with over 1, integrations of network hardware, cloud deployments, server, storage, and database technologies.
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ManageEngine OpManager is a network monitoring software that also features server monitoring capabilities. OpManager performs real-time monitoring of networks, physical and virtual servers, and WAN links; it also discovers and measures performance of every device connected to a network. The solution periodically monitors physical and virtual servers via SNMP and WMI protocols, observing server health, availability, and performance in real-time. Monitis is a performance monitoring solution that analyzes the performance of networks, websites, servers, and applications for Windows and Linux deployments.
Their server monitoring solution includes CPU, memory, storage, and disk monitoring in addition to server health checks. In addition to monitoring networks and websites, Monitis features custom service monitoring capabilities to help IT teams tailor their monitoring solutions to meet their needs. Powered by the Nagios Core 4 engine, users gain insight into server performance, network protocols, applications, and services. Nagios XI supports hundreds of third-party add-ons to allow the software to monitor common business applications.
The software functions as an all-in-one monitoring suite which is also able to monitor cloud environments, virtual machines, and hardware in addition to a network.
For server monitoring, PRTG can monitor a wide number of server types, including web, mail, database, and storage servers; the tool unifies server monitoring and management into a single-pane solution. SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor is a server and application monitoring solution that allows IT teams to monitor the status and performance of servers.
Top 10 Best Network Monitoring Tools ( Rankings)
Domotz Pro. Domotz Pro is an on-premise network monitoring and RMM solution that is best suited for midsize to large businesses. Key features of the platform include networking monitoring, remote management and troubleshooting, team management, It caters to businesses of all sizes across multiple industry verticals and is compatible with Windows 7 or later. Primary features include network BrowseControl is an internet control software that is used for restricting internet access and helps enforce web policies across a chosen network on a user or computer basis.
It caters to all industries and is very efficient at managing EventSentry is an on-premise network monitoring solution that helps businesses monitor the performance of their IP-based devices such as routers, switches and workstations. EventSentry offers four core functionalities: managing logs, Content management features allow users to share documents and Auvik is an IT asset and network monitoring solution designed for managed service providers MSPs to manage entire network infrastructures, including physical servers, data centers, workstations and more.
The solution offers the visibility Running on the cloud, it sends users notifications through Skype messages, email and slack notifications Network Performance Monitor.