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How to Assess Network Monitoring Software Needs

By Andrew Erickson

April 17, 2024


Network monitoring software is crucial for maintaining an efficient, secure, and high-performing business network.

Note about my experience: DPS Telecom equipment is telco-grade and built to survive in harsh remote locations. I have installed RTUs and network monitoring software in both IT and industrial telecom environments. Both of these scenarios demand high-quality equipment. Industrial telecom has the additional demand of requiring more rugged equipment.

Map screen of network monitoring software.
Example network monitoring screen: T/Mon GFX

Since this is a broad topic, we'll start with a general definition. Next, we'll discuss different possibilities for network monitoring:

Network Monitoring for IT Environments

Network monitoring software oversees traffic, performance, and availability. It identifies potential issues early, preventing severe problems and network downtime.

Network monitoring tools act as the IT professionals' eyes and ears. They monitor the network infrastructure continuously. This includes data collection regarding network traffic, usage patterns, and equipment performance.

Network Monitoring for Industrial Telco Environments

In industrial telecom settings, network monitoring isn't just about keeping an eye on digital data to prevent security threats. It also involves watching out for physical threats. Possible physical dangers include extreme temperatures and unauthorized access, which can harm your equipment and shorten its life.

For instance, too much heat can quickly damage telecom gear, causing it to fail more often. This can be expensive to fix or replace. Also, leaving doors open to important equipment areas can damage or manipulate gear as a result of environmental risks.

Modern network monitoring systems in these settings have sensors and tools that constantly check the surroundings to address problems. These systems can quickly tell operators if the temperature gets too high or if important doors are open. This ensures that you can take quick action to avoid equipment damage and network outages.

You can get a complete view of the network's health by adding environmental monitoring to network monitoring software. This will also provide information on the physical condition of the telecom infrastructure.

This monitoring keeps the network reliable and extends its life. Combining digital and physical monitoring marks a substantial step forward in managing industrial telecom networks. Overlooking either aspect can lead to significant costs.

Networking Status & History Reporting

Timely detection of irregularities or threats allows for quick responses. The software also provides detailed reports and analytics. These help in both immediate problem resolution and long-term planning. Maintaining network integrity and reliability is crucial, especially in IT and industrial telecom networks.

Assessing Your Business Needs

Selecting the right network monitoring software starts with evaluating your business needs. Consider the scale and complexity of your network and your specific requirements. A small business will differ from a multinational corporation.

IT networks often monitor bandwidth, server performance, and software updates. Industrial telecom networks focus on physical threats like overheating and hardware failure, especially in remote areas.

You should think about:

  • Network Size and Complexity: Larger networks need robust software to handle extensive data and provide comprehensive insights. For instance, our T/Mon LNX master station can manage thousands of devices simultaneously on up to 6 networks.
  • Specific Business Requirements: IT-focused businesses may prioritize bandwidth analytics. Industrial setups often need strong physical infrastructure monitoring.

Features to Look for in Network Monitoring Software

Choosing the right software involves evaluating key features that meet your business goals. Consider these essential features:

  • Real-time Monitoring: You must manage your network's health and respond instantly to network issues, minimizing downtime. Your monitoring system must be dependable and work 24/7, but it also must let you know instantly when you have a problem. Look for systems that will trigger an alert to you within no more than 3 seconds after a problem occurs.
  • Scalability: A goal for your software should be to grow with your business. It should handle increased loads as you add more servers, devices, or data flows. The right monitoring software will ensure your scalability by allowing for the blending of advanced and legacy equipment. If this ability is not present, companies must replace older technology sooner, which increases both cost and labor.
  • Support for Multiple Protocols and Legacy Systems: This is crucial in industrial telecom settings. Your solution should work with both modern and legacy equipment. This capability future-proofs your investment.
  • User Interface and Ease of Use: A user-friendly interface is key. It ensures your team can effectively utilize the software, regardless of the proficiency of the employee. Look for intuitive dashboards and easy navigation.
  • Integration Capabilities: Integration with other systems enhances functionality. It allows for a more comprehensive approach to network management and security. One approach is to integrate incompatible monitoring systems to work together, saving both money and time.

These features effectively ensure network monitoring. They improve reliability and efficiency in network operations. By focusing on these elements, businesses can choose a software solution that supports both current needs and future growth.

Price Factors When Buying Network Monitoring Software

Understanding the pricing of network monitoring software is key to making an informed choice. Different pricing models exist, including subscription-based or one-time purchases.

  • Pricing Models: Subscription plans may involve monthly or annual fees and typically include updates and support. One-time purchases may require additional costs for updates and technical support over time.
  • Installation and Maintenance Costs: Consider the initial setup and ongoing maintenance expenses. Some systems might also need specialized staff training, adding to the cost.
  • Return on Investment: High-quality network monitoring can prevent costly network downtime. Assess the potential savings against the software's price.
  • Hidden Costs: Be aware of costs for training, upgrades, and ongoing support. These can impact the total cost of ownership.

Evaluating Vendor Options

Selecting the right vendor is as important as choosing the software itself. The vendor's reliability can affect your network's stability.

  • Vendor Selection Criteria: Evaluate vendors based on the quality of their software and customer support. Look for service level agreements that guarantee uptime and support.
  • Vendor Reputation: Research vendor reliability and user satisfaction. Reading case studies or testaments from clients can provide insight into real-world applications of the software.
  • Support and Service: Good customer service is crucial. Ensure the vendor offers responsive support and resources for troubleshooting.

T/Mon LNX: A Case Study in Industrial Telecom Network Monitoring

T/Mon LNX stands out as an effective solution for monitoring industrial telecom network activity. The network device is capable of handling the specific challenges of remote and dispersed network sites.

  • Overview of T/Mon LNX: This system monitors, records, mediates, and forwards alarm data across over 25 protocols. It supports both modern and legacy equipment, making it versatile for various network setups.
  • Benefits: T/Mon LNX offers a multifunctional, multiprotocol platform. Its comprehensive GUI simplifies managing remote monitoring systems. The system shows real-time alarms on geographic maps, enhancing visibility and response times.
  • Scenarios for Use: T/Mon LNX is ideal for networks with >64 remote sites. The software is also suitable for environments with a mix of new and legacy telecommunications equipment because it supports multiple protocols. T/Mon's flexibility in managing alarm notifications and detailed historical analytics makes it a solid choice for diverse functional needs.

How to Make the Right Decision for Your Network Monitoring Software Purchase

Before purchasing network monitoring software, consider the following steps:

  • Trials and Demonstrations: Most vendors offer free trials or demos. Use these to test how the software fits with your network.
  • Checklist Before Purchase: Confirm the software meets all your criteria. Ensure it integrates well with your existing systems and meets your future growth expectations.

Choosing the right network monitoring software is a strategic decision that impacts your network's efficiency and security. By carefully considering features, costs, vendor options, and specific use cases like those of T/Mon LNX, you can make a well-informed choice. This investment not only supports your current operations but also prepares your network for future challenges and expansions.

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Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...