Network Monitoring Basics

Evolution in IT industry has led to advancements in computer networks, there are new & more advanced ways to connect now using technologies like remote users, wireless, cloud, mobile devices, IoT, VPN & much more!

As the industry is growing Network monitoring is become very important to monitor the more advanced complex networks like MPLS, LAN, VoIP, WAN etc.

Over time Network testing and monitoring systems/technologies have been evolving greatly, which has led to more automation also more way to check or test the systems and servers, and more ways to alert concerned admin of issues in the internal network components.

Before we move further let’s go through some quick points which will provide more in-depth clear vision to Network Management & furthermore Network Monitoring.

In simplified language a network would be a constellation of devices connected to each other for sharing resources.

Network is actually a collection of nodes/devices which are connected and can communicate with each other over a common channel or a protocol.

Whereas the communication between them would be more of data amongst different users or instructions/commands between different nodes in the complete network like computers, output devices, mobile devices, management elements, routing and switching devices, management elements etc.

Classification of networks can be done on the basis of the geo area in which they span. Also, the topology or the design of a network too can vary based on organizational needs such as ring, star, bus or mesh etc.

Network Managers are involved in performance management of components or fault analysis also in the provisioning of network and network devices & ensuring that the quality of service is maintained.

Summarizing it for you, a software or a tool which helps network admins or network managers to perform their tasks is called a network management software/tool.

network management system (NMS) is a collection or set of software and/or hardware tools which enable the network admin to administrate each and every component of a network within a huge network management structure.

Network monitoring also referred to as Network performance monitoring is a part of Network Management. This involves the use of a system or tool which constantly monitors complete computer network.

It involves checking for slowed down on failing components, also simultaneously notifying network admin through emails etc in the case of outage/failure or any other trouble!

Network monitoring includes timely checks of web servers, email, application or component or peripherals and the overall health of network itself.

Most organizations prefer to migrate to Network Monitoring Tools rather than the traditional method i.e. doing it manually. There are various monitoring tools for networks, servers, security, website, performance, databases, applications, & internet usage.

Points to look for in a good monitoring tool:

1. User-Friendly interface; See meaningful data, what matters the most to you
2. Custom Alerts; Receive alerts over SMS, Email, and SMS Over WiFi for enhanced reliability and coverage..
3. Root Cause Analysis; For faster troubleshooting

To ensure maximum uptime these above-mentioned points are the basic ones, there are more complexities to be measured like CPU Utilization, Memory Utilization etc.

But the question then arises, why to use network monitoring tools?

Network Monitoring tools assist you in continuously keeping a track of system components in use like their current status whether in up or down state etc, in order to get the alerts of failure or defects or problems simultaneously or in the nick of time to instantly take remedial action to improve/update them.

Network performance monitoring tools are responsible for tracking network traffic with the use of packet sniffing, SNMP, and sFlow/NetFlow, ensuring that your servers and website are up/running, & can also be used as a CPU, memory, and disk space monitor/tracker.

Network protocols that tools usually check are listed below –
(All types of network protocols majorly internet protocols)

1. Web Monitoring Services check for HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SNMP, POP3, IMAP, SMTP, DNS, SSH, TELNET, TCP, and SSL.
2. For Web Servers, the tool may forward the request to HTTP then on to a web server to find out its status.
3. In the case of the email server, monitoring tool might periodically forward a test message via SMTP which will be later on retrieved by POP3 or IMAP. Through this process, it can evaluate the overall path of test message simultaneously checking the health of network components on its way.

Now, one of the frequently asked question in the case of network monitoring topic is – What happens in the case of system or component failure?

So the step by step process would be –

1. Tool will detect the issue/problem
2. Alert the network admin with the help of email, SMS etc
3. If the tool is capable of Root cause analysis then the tool can point out the root cause of the issue
4. Thus Network Admin may troubleshoot the issues with the help of context provided by the tool
5. Hence saving time, money(100% uptime) & efforts!