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by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: January 17, 2017


Organizations with highly trafficked websites or intranets must make sure that their sites are always accessible, with little to no downtime. To achieve this, many organizations rely on network monitoring software, a type of business security software, to track and manage network related issues.

This guide will give you a glimpse of the network monitoring software landscape so that you can better understand which choice is right for your organization.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Network Monitoring Software?
Common Network Monitoring Software Features
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Pricing
Key Considerations for Network Monitoring Software

What Is Network Monitoring Software?

System administrators use network monitoring software to identify bottlenecks, slow spots, malicious threats and overall server performance. Users can find issues before they become serious problems and receive alerts when the network is experiencing problems. This software is also used to gauge metrics such as response time and server uptime.

Many of the available options provide activity dashboards that visualize overall usage statistics such as traffic, bandwidth, memory consumption and bandwidth and memory consumption.

Spiceworks dashboard

 

Spiceworks’ network monitoring dashboard

 

Network monitoring software is essential for large organizations with multiple server locations, as it provides an overview of all of a network’s performance statistics and data in one place, allowing the system administrator to quickly identify and respond to network issues.

Common Network Monitoring Software Features

Below are some common network monitoring software features that are available in most of the major vendors’ platforms.

IP SLA Internet Protocol Service Level Agreements (IP SLA) ensure that the network is performing as guaranteed. The agreements set specific metrics for server performance. The system administrator can run reports that test and measure those key performance indicators.
Trend prediction Trend prediction collects historical network data to forecast future network issues.
SNMP Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is a network management operations standard. Most network monitoring software platforms are fully compatible with SNMP.
Alerts Network administrators can set up custom alerts which are sent via email, text or phone when the network reaches the threshold for certain problems.
Inventory Users can track physical hardware devices and software within their organization.
Distributed monitoring Users can offload an overwhelmed server’s resources to another server within their organization.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

The size of your business can significantly impact your networking monitoring software needs. In general, desired features and the scale of the solution can be divided between small businesses and large enterprises:

  • Small business. A small business with only one server location and moderate amounts of internal and external traffic typically does not need fully featured network monitoring software. Small business users usually just need to ensure that their networks are being properly maintained and that they are aware of any potential issues.
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  • Large enterprises. Big businesses with multiple server locations across different geographical locations typically need more advanced network monitoring features. Their network administrators usually need more advanced tools to prevent and diagnose network-related issues.

Pricing

Many network monitoring software platforms are available for free, with limited features or with additional fees for larger server networks. Spiceworks, for example, offers a freely available network monitoring platform, but displays ads within the software and charges fees for premium features.

Most paid network monitoring platforms charge a monthly fee based on the size of the network. Users typically pay additional fees when adding new server locations to their network, and pay extra for support and premium features or add ons.

Key Considerations for Network Monitoring Software

Before you start the process of evaluating potential network monitoring systems for your organization, you should detail all your requirements and categorize them based on their importance. Below are some of the parameters that can help you identify the best solution:

Scope of the system. The network monitoring system that you select should be capable of handling all the different variations that you require in your process. For instance, it should be able to handle virtual environments, process specific network devices and monitor multiple geographical locations.

Customization in process and other specific priorities. Since every organization and their monitoring requirements differ widely, the solution must be customizable in terms of alerts generated and the process for each alert. As a buyer, you must know exactly what you want to monitor and whether you need alerts for your support teams, reporting only or both.

Automated discovery of components. A network monitoring system with an automatic discovery module is especially important if you operate a large network across multiple locations. It’s not always possible to physically send in a technical team member to check on components, so the automatic discovery feature is quite useful. For example, whenever a new network component is added to a network monitoring solution, the automatic discovery module scans the new component using Simple Network Management protocol (SNMP) and updates the system to ensure that the network map is up to date.

Scalability. Your network should be able to grow alongside your business. So, the solution you select must be able to scale and handle changes effectively.

After-hours support model. Another critical factor is whether the solution you choose has an after-hours support model that meets all your requirements. Be sure to check the overall process and procedures for after-hours incidents beforehand.

Clearly defined service level agreements (SLA). This is one of the most important parameters to check before going with any networking monitoring solution. You must know the escalation process and timing of each option. If the SLA does not match your requirements then you can ask for a different SLA that matches your specific needs.

Location of support contacts. As a network monitoring solution buyer, be sure to know the location of your support contacts and also about the type of network that they're monitoring for you. You should note whether they are located in your area, region or country and also how this will impact their overall support service.

Availability of internal IT staff. Make sure that you have enough resources and internal IT team members to handle any additional work that is generated by your network monitoring solution. The internal team must be able to triage incidents and interpret reports. In case a network issue occurs, the internal IT team must be aware of its specific role and communication needs.

 

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