Your company's network is most likely vast and complex, and possibly relies on multiple connected devices and equipment. While your network is critical for your operations and bottom line, it can also be susceptible to various problems. Depending on your specific scenario, issues can range from low batteries, failed equipment, hackers, and etc.
This is where the concept of a network monitoring system comes into the picture. This system will be your network's first (and best) line of defense against innumerable threats. After all, the ideal monitoring device can give you complete visibility over the status of network devices, conditions, and applications, and alert you to potential issues before they cause devastating and expensive downtime.
Understanding the benefits of a network monitoring solution is easy, but choosing the right one is a whole different story. The market is overflowing with all kinds of monitoring systems: closed or open-sourced, hosted or on-premises, paid or free - just to name a few options.
With this many options available, you need to select the solution that addresses all your unique business needs. In this article, we'll look into the main considerations to keep in mind before you select a monitoring system for your network.
Ask yourself: "Do I really need to spend the big bucks on a paid monitoring system?"
Of course, a free and open-source network monitoring software will cost anything. But, more often than not, free monitoring tools are too good to be true. They come with limited features and functionality. This will complicate configuration and maintenance in the long-term.
When it's something as mission-critical as your network, it's always best to go for a paid solution that incorporates industry best practices. With all of your devices, equipment, and applications managed from a unified, actionable interface, it becomes easier to and quicker to detect and fix issues.
With that in mind, choose a monitoring system with an easy-to-use customizable interface. A dashboard like that will help you keep track of all relevant information about your network and will probably feature network topology-aware maps, status reports/graphs, and commands for fixing different issues.
Also, make sure to look for a monitoring solution that comes with real-time alerting capabilities. You'll probably agree that it's almost impossible to sit in front of an interface 24x7, and when the system detects a change in a determined condition, it should trigger automatic email and text message alerts.
No matter how useful you think your network monitoring system is, it won't serve the desired purpose if it's a hassle to deploy.
As you research and weigh in your options, make sure to examine the implementation work your team will have to do. This includes provisioning systems, deploying equipment, and continually managing the different components of the whole setup.
Implementation is one area where purchased solutions have a unique advantage. They usually are built to have a simpler implementation and customization mechanism since all components are pre-built into the monitoring tool. This allows you to hit the ground running much faster.
Not to mention that some vendors will actually help you roll out your system devices and can also provide training to make sure your system is always running optimally.
Indeed, ease of implementation is critical, but usability is even a more important factor in determining your monitoring system's suitability. You'll get more value out of your investment if your solution is easy to use and delivers easy-to-understand real-time, actionable reports.
Remember that the main purpose of your network monitoring solution is to allow you or your team to focus on other tasks by reducing the time it takes to detect, isolate, troubleshoot, and resolve a network problem. So, having a system that allows you to intuitively do that is critical.
Another point to keep in mind is the capacity of your network monitoring system, including its scalability.
Networks are rarely static. They usually expand as the number of nodes, servers, devices, and applications grows as time passes. That's why it's important to make sure your system has enough capacity to deal with your monitoring needs now, but also still has data collection and reporting capacity left to accommodate future needs.
Data encryption is an important concern in network monitoring, especially for government agencies, finance, and healthcare industries. This is because hackers and other malicious actors are always looking for vulnerable paths to take advantage of.
Since your monitoring system deals directly with data and control commands, it's critical that you protect it. To avoid possible threats to your network, invest in system that is equipped with important security features, such as:
This is one of the hardest things to take into consideration. Some vendors not only charge you the purchase price of your equipment but also charge licensing fees on top of that. So, most of the time it's not easy to decide what will be the most cost-effective for you.
Some vendors charge per single monitored item. So, if you have to monitor many items, you'll still have to purchase a license for every element you need to keep an eye on. Other vendors charge depending on the number of devices and applications on your network.
Before you snowball your costs, make sure your vendor offers one-time technology licensing. This way you won't be paying recurring licensing feeds. You'll have a one-time-only expense when purchasing your monitoring system, instead of continuous expenses.
Selecting not only the best but also the right network monitoring solution for your network can take time and a lot of consideration. But, having a customizable, easy-to-use, powerful solution in place can help improve security and provide real-time insight into your network's status.
What's more, an efficient monitoring system can save your organization money, time, and peace of mind. This allows you and your team to focus on other important tasks.
As a trusted monitoring systems manufacturer, we make sure to provide complete network monitoring, alerting, control, and mapping solutions that are both user-friendly and powerful. Our NetGuardian RTUs and the T/Mon master station will give your a comprehensive picture of your devices, servers, applications, and more. With our solutions you'll reliably protect your network.
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