Is your network secure?
If your answer is YES, congratulations!
Your network is safe from all sorts of nuisances, and you would hardly face any technical glitches that can hamper your business operations.
But what if your answer is NO, or DON’T KNOW?
Well, you must consider monitoring your network or enhancing its related capabilities.
This digital age demands you to protect your business all the time by keeping an eye on all the directions, especially the Internet. It’s because of rampant security threats costing businesses very frequently and deteriorating their image.
All it takes is just one moment to destroy everything you have gained over the years. And you certainly can’t afford that…ever!
This is precisely why you must monitor your network to mitigate threats and secure your business, so your customers can trust you always.
The market size of network monitoring surpassed $2 billion in 2019, while it is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 10% from 2020-2026, to reach $5 billion, says this report.
So, it’s high time you must acknowledge its underlying importance and invest in high-quality network monitoring capabilities to stay secure.
But first things first, let’s understand a bit about network monitoring, and then I’ll be unraveling some mind-blowing software for it.
Let’s start, shall we?
What’s network monitoring?
The process in which network components such as servers, firewalls, switches, routers, etc. are monitored is what you can call network monitoring.
Pretty straightforward, isn’t it?
Similarly, the software used to monitor all those components is known as network monitoring software. It is a crucial weapon in your toolbox that can troubleshoot network issues and inform the administrator when things go wrong.
The tool collects useful data from various parts of your network and helps control and manage the network. Here, the focus is given on fault monitoring, account monitoring, and performance monitoring.
To examine your network, the software can send signals (or pings) to different system ports. If network monitoring is proactive, it will help find the solution to a given network problem sooner to prevent downtimes or network failure.
The entire process takes places mainly in three steps:
- Ping: This basic technique used by the software to test network availability
- SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol): It monitors devices separately within a network with the help of a monitoring tool
- Scripts: They fill gaps between the monitoring tool’s functionalities
How is it different from Application performance monitoring?
Application performance monitoring software evaluates how your applications perform or function by utilizing resources they require, such as network access.
On the other hand, network monitoring monitors devices operating the network, for instance, servers, routers, and switches.
It mainly monitors three things:
- The network availability to check how the network is operating.
- Network utilization and capacity to examine whether or not the network is overloaded
- Network performance to check whether or not the data packets are arriving at the respective destinations on time and with a consistent speed
Why is a network monitoring important for businesses of all sizes?
Many organizations walk past network monitoring, thinking all is well with their networks. But just because everything seems well at present, it does not mean it would remain as it is, especially in the era of cyberattacks and other factors.
Network monitoring software is built to keep your network running optimally. It is a great way to improve network performance, as well.
Here’s how it can help your business.
Identifies all the weak links
The software alerts administrators on identifying a weak network link or overloaded equipment before it could become a problem. This way, administrators can easily adjust network configurations based on the requirements to eliminate bottlenecks and reduce unnecessary burdens.
These tools are excellent at finding the performance patterns of your network. So, if it finds equipment underperforming, administrators could determine its cause at an initial phase and implement a perfect solution for it.
Traditional systems might need you to manually check everything to see if there is an error in your network. Network mentoring tools are advanced and waste no time to send you notifications.
As a result of this promptness, it is efficient in minimizing downtimes and issues so that you can take immediate action.
Reduces data loss
If your network is infiltrated and error-prone, you can lose essential business data, the impacts of which are disturbingly dangerous!
Consequently, your files might get corrupted, mails begin to drop, security threats, decayed productivity, and whatnot!
Network monitoring systems give you absolute respite from such things by detecting issues beforehand and allowing them to fix them while there’s still time.
The tools can compile a huge database of useful information regarding compliance. Hence, if any potential compliance issue occurs, you will be notified to solve it before the regulatory bodies can impose huge fines on you.
So, it’s better to avoid all these issues and leverage network monitoring software to run your business trouble-free.
If convinced, I’ve come up with some of the best network monitoring tools that you can turn up to and enjoy all their benefits.
Nagios Network Analyzer
Trusted by big brands like Disney, Universal, Cisco, and more, Nagios is one of the best tools available in the market. It provides an extensive analysis of your network and traffic sources along with security threats.
Hence, system admins can quickly collect high-level data regarding the network health to find the best possible solution. The software comes with a powerful web interface that’s easy to use and allows consolidating notifications and alerts.
The Nagios Network Analyzer offers a centralized view of your bandwidth data and potential compromises with extra clarity. Its intuitive dashboard lets you analyze critical NetFlow data sources, abnormal network behavior, and server metrics to assess the network.
The software can adapt to the users’ existing environment for painless implementation so you can get started quickly. Besides, add-on features also allow you to push SNMP notifications for trap management as well as monitoring. It includes a calculator for bandwidth utilization that you can customize. It helps you create reports to summarize IPs, bandwidth utilization/source, etc.
Do you want a high-speed traffic analysis?
Of course, you do!
ntopng is the next-gen version of ntop, one of the best network traffic probes capable of monitoring network utilization. This libpcap-based tool is written portably to run on any UNIX platform, Windows, or macOS.
You get a smart web interface to explore information about historical and real-time traffic along with active hosts. It can sort traffic based on L7 protocol, port, IP address, autonomous systems, and throughput.
ntopng produces network metric reports including app protocols, senders and receivers, app and network latencies, TCP statistics like retransmissions, packet lost, round trip time (or RTT), and more.
You can overlay and geolocate hosts on a map and explore app protocols with ntop Deep Packet Inspection (nDPI) technology. ntopng supports IPv4, IPv6, GTP, or GRE tunneling, along with ElasticSearch, MySQL, LogStash to export monitored data.
SolarWinds is a popular name in the industry, and its NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) is yet another awesome product by the company. It is a powerful solution with many useful features and tools built to translate fine details into comprehensive reports and graphs.
NTA helps you identify the biggest resources draining your bandwidth and other network utilization and traffic. It collects traffic metrics from various data sources, including NetFlow.
This way, you can understand which applications, protocols, and users are consuming the largest bandwidth. You can also examine your traffic patterns and monitor specific ports, IP addresses, etc. to find the real cause of network issues.
NTA comes with features such as:
- Fast and secure solution: NTA fosters prompt troubleshooting, greater visibility of malicious traffic flows, and increased efficiency.
- Full integration: It works with Orion platforms seamlessly, such as Network Performance Manager (NPM) and Network Configuration Manager (NCM).
- Conversation: By combining NTA with NCM, you can see traffic conversations based on NCM policies.
- Bandwidth monitoring: View the flow records of IPv4 & IPv6 and monitor applications like Cisco NetFlow, sFlow, Juniper J-Flow, Huawei NetStream, etc.
- Alerts: Get notified in case any device malfunctions so that you can act quickly
- Traffic analysis: Track patterns over minutes, days, and months to collect and correlate data into usable formats and present it to a web interface for traffic monitoring.
Don’t let IT infrastructure bottlenecks hamper your work. Instead, go for Paessler to monitor your network, visualize it clearly, and relax!
It’s PRTG Network Monitor can efficiently monitor your network devices, systems, and apps.
PRTG is an intuitive solution that requires no additional plugins and is suitable for any business, no matter what the size. It allows you to determine bandwidth consumptions, monitor databases, manage applications, and extract their detailed statistics. It also helps you manage and monitor cloud computing services, multiple server types in real-time, local networks such as routers, printers, workstations, etc.
PRTG comes with features like:
- Supported technologies: It supports SNMP, WMI, SSH for macOS, Linux or Unix, and traffic analysis through packet sniffing and flow protocols, HTTP requests, Ping, SQL, and REST API to return JSON and XML
- Maps & dashboards: PRTG uses real-time maps, including live status, to view your network. Create customized dashboards and integrate network components through 300+ map objects like traffic charts, status icons, top lists, etc.
- Flexible alerting offers lots of in-built mechanisms for alerts such as HTTP requests, push notifications, or emails.
- A full-featured user interface: Its web interface is built on AJAX while maintaining high security, performance, and responsive design
- Failover solution: When the primary node is down or not connected, another node takes over immediately to provide failover handling automatically
- In-depth Reporting: Get the statistics, numbers, and graphs containing your monitoring data. Export historical monitoring information in PDF, CSV, XML, and HTML files and run reports on-demand or schedule them monthly, weekly, or daily.
PRTG’s pricing starts at $1,750 for 1 server installation and 500 sensors with a perpetual license.
Monitor hundreds and thousands of devices, systems, applications, and networks by using Pandora FMS. It includes loads of features in one single license to offer a homogeneous network solution.
Pandora FMS has successfully removed bottlenecks in network systems since 2004. It can easily monitor your client networks with no external access through its client servers. The servers are deployed quickly and managed centrally, despite no connection directly.
Some of the basic features of Pandora FMS are:
- Detection of network system configuration changes
- Remote software & license inventory
- Monitoring for Linux, Unix, and Windows computers
- Historical graphs, from up to 3 years back
- Advanced uptime reports, charts for capacity planning, SLAs, and more
- SNMP trap management and polling SNMP version 3
- Integrated IPAM to manage IP addresses
- Decentralized probes to enjoy greater scalability and flexibility.
- NetFlow for performance and capacity management of networks
- Network auto-discovery at levels 2 & 3
Run network analysis in real-time using NetFlow, sFlow, or JFlow with Pandora FMS. Get an in-depth analysis of traffic statistics, reports, and dynamic maps based on nodal traffic.
Due to its predictable and flexible licensing, you will know how much it’s going to cost you.
NetCrunch is an efficient monitoring platform for various network components such as servers, routers, virtualization services, cameras, IoT devices, firewalls, and more. It is an affordable and easy-to-use solution where you can precisely see your network components’ performance and state.
What sets NetCrunch apart from others is its ability to manage and configure alerts, monitor configuration according to policies and performance metrics. You can even control availability parameters such as Ping, SSH, HTTP, FTP, etc. NetCrunch watches all the connections and then reflects them on different graphical views automatically like layer-2 segment maps.
Also, it can monitor flow-based technologies, including JFlow, sfFlow, NetFlow, etc. It can monitor OS like BSD, macOS X, Linux, and Windows without agents. It supports Hyper-V and ESXi monitoring and allows web monitors, Dockers, text logs, SQL servers, cloud, etc.
NetCrunch can receive trigger alerts and events on certain predefined rules like Syslog, SNMP traps, web messages, Windows Event Log, etc. It allows you to parse text logs with SSH sensors without downloading the entire data logs.
OpenNMS is an open-source, enterprise-grade, and integrated platform for building network monitoring services. Its community is dedicated to making interoperable solutions.
The platform normalizes vendor and device-specific messages along with protocol-specific performance measures. Here, the data can be accessed through a REST API for high-level workflow management applications. You can also extend this platform by running scripts on the operating system or using a native Java API.
Leverage it to build your ticketing integration or use their pre-built integrations. Utilize monitored events to generate alarms and then forward them to external apps integrated into your management workflows.
Capsa is a portable tool to monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot network issues. It comes with a simple interface that’s easy for both novice and veteran users and assesses online threats.
It is suitable for both WLANs and LANs and has packet-capturing capabilities in real-time, 24×7 monitoring, sophisticated protocol analysis, expert diagnosis, and packet decoding.
Some of the features of Capsa are:
- VolP calls analysis to help you troubleshoot VolP-related networks.
- Multiple ways to get notified
- Task scheduler for scheduling packet capture and analysis daily, weekly, or for one time
- TCP flow analysis to provide data about slow networks, downloading, CRM transactions, etc.
- Graphs for bandwidth and traffic statistics
- Monitors multiple network behaviors like HTTP, DNS, emails, FTP, Yahoo Messenger, and MSN
Zenoss allows you to monitor your entire virtual and physical networks, including on-premises and cloud infrastructure. It extracts, ingests, correlates, and indexes your data in one cohesive architecture for actionable intelligence. It collects and logs data from your systems to comprehend the present states of your infrastructure and applications.
The tool helps to mitigate network outages by alerting, isolating, and resolving issues immediately. Zenoss utilizes a centralized and dynamic network and an inventory for IP addresses for devices, creating an automatic map for network topology and updating them.
Zenoss suppresses symptomatic events at layer-3 networking failures to eliminate the spread of issues, accelerate its isolation, and identify the root cause. It shows network availability and performance metrics, such as outbound and inbound traffic speeds, operations, and patterns. Besides, it can visualize crucial network paths on-premises, cloud, or hybrid environments.
Another open-source network monitoring system on the list is NetXMS. It operates on huge networks having 1000s of servers; hence, it’s scalable. It is also highly customizable as you can integrate it easily with other 3rd-party solutions.
NetXMS supports Windows and major Unix systems and offers industry-standard encryption for better security and access control. It offers automatic device discovery of Layer 2 & 3, search, and visualization. It supports SNMPv3, active discovery using scanning probes, and passive discovery through interfaces and routing tables.
NetXMS is NAT-friendly and offers proxies for ICMP, SNMP, plus native protocol. It promotes remote management and allows you to send SNMP commands, transfer files, etc. It supports horizontal scaling and distributed mentoring as well.
The Network Analyzer of Opsview lets you see your network’s protocol usage, data transfers, packet loss, end nodes receiving and transmitting data, and more. With Opsview, you can find SNMP traps, translate them through SNMP MIBs, and apply rules to determine alerts and their messages.
The tool consists of 2 modules – Net Audit and Flow Collector.
Net Audit lets you backup network configurations, eliminating the risk of losing the configuration if any change is made.
Flow Collector enables analysis and collection of flow-enables devices like Cisco NetFlow, HP Switches, etc. Hence, you can pinpoint problematic applications quickly and take mitigation steps like rerouting traffic, optimizing configuration, increasing bandwidth, etc.
The fully-featured network monitoring solution – LibreNMS has lots of useful capabilities. You can automatically discover your network using SNMP, ARP, BGP, OSPF, LLDP, FDP, and CDP. It offers a highly flexible alert system and notifies you through Slack, IRC, emails, etc.
With API access, you can manage, retrieve, and map data. LibreNMS promotes horizontal scaling with distributed polls to grow more with the network. It also comes with native iPhone and Android applications so you can monitor on the go.
What more – it integrates with NfSen, SmokePing, collectd, RANCID, and Oxidized.
Best Practices for network monitoring
Choosing a good network monitoring software is only the first step. Next, you need to exercise the best practices to implement network monitoring.
- Awareness about your network: It’s vital to track your network all the changes implemented, areas covered, hardware and servers involved, remote devices, the network types requiring monitoring, and more.
- Make alert plans: Alerts must be reached to the right people and at the right time; otherwise, installing the monitoring software won’t help. Appoint a specific person-in-charge to take care of different network aspects with clear responsibilities.
- Regular assessment: Consider assessing your network regularly because the networks, along with your team members, change.
Network monitoring is crucial for your business. When you lookout for a solution, things may look daunting at first. But, don’t get overwhelmed with loads of options out there.
Instead, go through what each of the solutions offers, which is actually useful for your business. And then make your final decision.
Next, find out IP scanner for network management.