Network monitoring is essential to your business’s security.
It prevents detrimental security breaches such as unwanted access and data loss that could have severe consequences for your IT infrastructure. Although technological advances in the form of tools and software applications have made it easier for businesses to streamline activities, it has also become a hazard since relying too heavily on automation can be like placing all of your eggs in one basket.
In this article, we will take a look at what network monitoring is, why is is vital for your business, and the proper practices that you should be following.
What is Network Monitoring
Network monitoring, according to techopedia.com, is a computer network’s systematic effort to detect slow or failing network components, such as overloaded or crashed/frozen servers, failing routers, failed switches or other problematic devices. In the event of a network failure or similar outage, the network monitoring system alerts the network administrator (NA). Network monitoring is a subset of network management.
This process is usually carried out by a series of software applications and tools and having proper procedure in place to deal with server issues is essential for maintaining your IT infrastructure and for preventing catastrophic failures in the future.
However, having network monitoring tools in place is simply not enough these day, and that is why we put together this list of the top network monitoring practices that you should be following in 2016. By adopting these practices, you can greatly help the network admin streamline their efforts for identifying and resolving issues much faster.
Create a Performance Baseline
A network performance baseline is a set of metrics that defines how your network infrastructure should perform under normal working conditions. It is these metric that will be used as thresholds for when to send a performance alert to the network administrator. In order for you to set the performance baseline, you need to run tests to fully understand the capability of your hardware and network devices.
The three key objectives that you are trying to achieve are:
- Determine what the current status of your network is
- Compare that status to a standard performance level
- Set alerts when the status falls below the threshold
Network Inventory Management
Another key factor of proper network monitoring is inventory management. Included in your inventory should be network devices, ports and interfaces that are used for network connections, and also network hardware including network controllers, power supplies, servers, links, virtual machines, and SAN device. It is essential to keep an inventory of these items because these are the key pieces of your IT infrastructure that you need to monitor.
So how do you even begin to create an inventory list? First, you need to discover all of the devices that need to be monitored and add them to your monitoring software. For best organizational practices, group them by vendor, location, and data center. Once you have organized your list, you can create a network map with connections that represent your network’s topology. This will provide a visual representation of your network across your entire infrastructure.
Build Visual Displays
Aside from using a network map for a visual guide, you can take things one step further and create a dashboard that shows that status of your critical IT systems. This dashboard provides a real-time look at the current status of your network and will give you the ability to discover issues more quickly which will reduce the overall amount of time spent to detect, debug, and implement a fix. There is a wide range of software applications that can be used to build a dashboard, but you can also turn to a network monitoring specialist to help you identify critical systems that you might have overlooked.
Create Regular Reports
As a network admin, it is quite easy to get tied up wit important IT issues which might result in neglecting monitoring your network. A great practice to follow is to configure a custom report that will be delivered to your email on a weekly basis. A scheduled report delivery is a great way to not only remind you to look back at recent results over the week, but to provide a top level insight that will allow you to discover trends in performance. Included in your report should be all of your core data points that have the greatest impact on your network.
Also, by covering the basics in your weekly reports, you are able to focus on more specific issues and special cases that may arise when your network evolves and as new systems, services, applications, and hardware come online.
By following these best practices for network monitoring, you have taken the first steps to keeping your network safe, secure, and properly functioning at all times.