Visibility plays a crucial role in project success, because what the project manager and the stakeholders can see, they can act on and plan for. In the same way, it is essential for IT network administrators to monitor their network. Data is like the lifeblood of today’s business, and the network connections are the blood vessels. Network monitoring tools can provide an indication if business data is flowing smoothly or heading towards critical condition.
What is network monitoring software?
Network monitoring is part of network management, which also includes fault analysis, performance management, quality of service, and other activities. Before IT admins can analyze issues and performance, they need to have historical data that they can use to fix problems correctly, use resources efficiently, and plan for future provisions.
Network monitoring software uses technology to continuously monitor the network infrastructure and computers for connectivity, availability, response time, and other reliability measurements. These tools periodically send signals to make sure end-to-end communication is established, application requests are completed, and the transmission of data of various sizes is within acceptable rates. Any resulting error or failure initiated by the system or by a user is immediately reported to a central console. A network slowdown can be caused by equipment malfunction or the presence of security threat, and the software can provide timely alert to the right response team.
Benefits of network monitoring software
Network monitoring tools help IT administrators avoid getting surprised by calls that the network is down. They are able to stay ahead of outages, fix issues before they become worse, and provide complete information and recommendation to users and management about the situation. In particular, these tools give:
- Visibility to IT for all connected network devices and elements
- Real-time status of devices, whether working as expected, problematic, or out
- Accurate reports of problems, so response teams can locate and fix issues faster
- Historical reports to help in network planning for reconfiguration and expansion
- Improved network management by proactive monitoring that minimizes urgent firefighting
- Insight about requirements of users and applications based on the performance and capacity of their network.
Best network monitoring tools and software for 2021
Network monitoring software assists understaffed IT departments and overworked administrators by giving them time to perform less urgent but more important jobs. The best network monitoring tools are fully automated so IT teams can do fewer manual monitoring tasks and concentrate more on fault, traffic, and performance analyses. Here is a list of the top network monitoring solutions in no particular order based on reviews from multiple sites, features, and company ranking.
Site24x7 is a network performance monitoring tool that offers different products for websites, networks, applications. It also offers an all-in-one product. It is a cloud-based software that can monitor and analyze a variety of devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, VPNs, wireless network devices, printers, and UPS. SNMP trap processors and advanced alerting mechanisms detect anomalies instantly so IT admins can reduce incidences of network outages.
Atera is a unified platform with remote monitoring and management (RMM), PSA, remote access, help desk, billing, and reporting features. The all-in-one RMM platform is ideal for IT and managed service providers (MSP) to streamline and automate most of their work. Features include real-time monitoring and alerts including on system resources, logged in users, network IP addresses, and Windows updates. It also has pre-configured IT task automation, patch management, and remote maintenance.
PRTG Network Monitor from Paessler supports a wide variety of sensor types that easily discovers and scans a network for devices. Adding or changing sensors manually is also possible. The software monitors the uptime and bandwidth of the network. Remote management is available through a web browser, PocketPC, or Windows client. Downtime notifications are sent by email, SMS, pager, or ICQ. Common methods of network usage data acquisition, such as SNMP, packet sniffing, and Xflow are supported.
Zabbix network monitoring software enables users to monitor network performance such as bandwidth usage, packet loss rate, interface error rate, and high CPU or memory utilization. It can also monitor when a link is down, when the status of a system is in warning or critical, or when a device temperature is too high or low. Aside from monitoring network performance and health indicators, it can also monitor configuration changes such as when new devices are added or removed. The software has templates that readily works with many network devices including from Brocade, Cisco, HPE, Dell, D-Link, and NETGEAR.
ConnectWise Automate is an RMM software with automation features. Internal IT teams and MSPs can know about issues and resolve them with round-the-clock monitoring, so they can fix the problems even before users and clients know about them. It provides a single source of monitoring and reporting with video recording of remote sessions for audit purposes. It can monitor servers, desktops, agent, and agent-less devices with pre-configured and custom monitoring solutions.
ManageEngine OpManager is a network monitoring solution that is easy to install and use, customizable for a variety of network administration needs, and has a rich set of features for network management. Its network performance monitoring solution covers any IP-based device and monitors system performance, network services, bandwidth utilization, and traffic flow visually. The software checks the availability, CPU, memory, traffic, errors and discards, as well as WAN performance.
Network Performance Monitor from SolarWinds gathers metrics from multi-vendor devices across networks of any size, including wireless networks. It has intelligent maps and reporting for deep visibility, advanced alerting, and automated tools for troubleshooting. Other important features are network availability monitoring, critical path visualization, and performance analysis. Users find and analyze availability, fault, and performance issues quickly to reduce network downtime and resolve issues faster.
Broadcom’s DX NetOps is a unified and scalable network monitoring software for traditional, software-defined, and cloud networks. Features include real-time performance monitoring and machine learning analytics that provide IT teams information about inventory, topology, device metrics, faults, flow, and packet analysis. The software is useful for predicting network congestion on a variety of network architectures, including WAN, software-defined WAN, and data center-to-data center connections.
Datadog offers network monitoring as a service. Users can look at their network infrastructure from an overview to deep details in a few clicks. Aside from the network, it can also monitor the performance of servers, cloud, applications, and teams. Other features include turn-key integrations with SaaS and cloud providers, automation tools, monitoring and instrumentation, source control, bug tracking, and databases for complete visibility.
Spiceworks provides a free web app and services monitoring software. The Connectivity Dashboard is simple to set up and can be up and running in minutes. A monitoring agent is installed on the device to be monitored. It will spot and report slow network connections and applications before they crash, so users can provide the fix immediately. It also integrates with other free tools such as a help desk, inventory, and contracts.