Enterprise Network Monitoring: Best Practices for Efficient Operations

Learn about the importance of enterprise network monitoring and best practices for efficient operations. Explore the key tools and techniques to ensure seamless network performance.

Introduction to Enterprise Network Monitoring

Understanding the significance of network monitoring

A robust network infrastructure that maximizes performance and uptime is essential to guarantee reliable digital services. To accomplish this, network administrators rely on network monitoring tools. These tools perform a variety of key functions. They discover network devices, check their performance, as well as the performance of the network traffic itself. Enterprise network monitoring tools can also verify the performance of applications and the end-user experience. Moreover, network monitoring tools provide insights into network usage and performance trends, allowing for informed decision-making regarding upgrades and expansions. For this reason, enterprise network monitoring plays a central role in network management.

Benefits of proactive network monitoring

The main benefit of proactive network monitoring tools is that they alert network administrators when network devices, applications, and end-users are having problems. Sometimes it is possible to identify problems before the users even notice the outage. By continuously observing network activity, enterprise monitoring tools quickly detect potential network issues, such as packet loss or network slowness, before they turn into major issues. Generally this is accomplished by configuring the monitoring system with a set of rules that define the alarming conditions. When the conditions are met, the monitoring system can send a notification using methods such as emails, webhooks, and others. This proactive approach enables organizations to minimize network downtime, ensuring that critical business processes remain unaffected. Overall, proactive network monitoring leads to improved efficiency, reduced costs of downtime, and a more resilient network environment.

Challenges and risks in enterprise network monitoring

While enterprise network monitoring tools have several benefits, they also come with their set of challenges and risks. One of the biggest challenges is configuring network monitoring in large and complex enterprise networks. For instance, a modern network that employs virtualization and cloud technologies has more layers of obfuscation. This makes it more difficult for enterprise network monitoring tools to identify the root cause of performance issues. 

Implementation risk due to knowledge gap

Another challenge in enterprise network monitoring is when the team tasked with configuring and operating the network management systems has limited knowledge of the network infrastructure. The knowledge gap, along with lack of network documentation, may leave some areas of the computer network uncovered. The network discovery functionality will help automatically detect and discover network locations during setup and regular operations, reducing implementation risk.

Alert fatigue

One common complaint of enterprise network performance monitoring tools is that they could generate too much noise. When partially configured, a monitoring tool may trigger too many alerts that are false positives. This may cause network administrators to disregard future notifications, and miss real issues. Network monitoring tools require adherence to best practices so that they are configured to minimize, or completely eliminate, false positives.

Interoperability considerations

Lastly, given the vast range of functions that network monitoring systems have to perform, there are many options available for enterprise network monitoring software. Rarely one tool handles them all. As a result, it’s common in large enterprises to have more than one network monitoring system. In such a multi-solution environment, to implement a single pane of glass requires integrating data from different tools. To ensure interoperability, it’s important that tools support standard protocols as well as third party integrations.

Enterprise Network Monitoring Solutions

The field of enterprise network monitoring is vast as there are different solutions available. Each solution addresses a specific goal, and may require more than one tool to address it. Let’s briefly describe key capabilities that should be included in a successful monitoring strategy.

Service availability monitoring

Service availability monitoring is an essential part of network management as it verifies that services are accessible and functioning for the users. When implementing service availability monitoring, it’s important to continuously test and ensure the correct functioning of web servers, video conferencing systems, cloud applications, SaaS, etc. so that the team can promptly detect and address any downtime or performance degradation.

Service availability monitoring includes service status dashboards that users can check to visualize the status of the network, its services, and resources. This is very similar to the case of how a service provider communicates with its subscribers on the status of its services. A service status dashboard is an effective tool for an organization as a form of self-help, which contributes to a reduction in tech support costs.

Network traffic analysis and performance monitoring

Network traffic analysis and performance monitoring are two critical aspects of network infrastructures management. The first one works by continuously examining the flow of data packets across a network. By doing so, network admins can identify patterns, including high consumers of bandwidth, and detect anomalies, such as security threats, that could affect performance. The second component of performance monitoring focuses on collecting real time data of network traffic performance, such as latency, packet loss, and jitter. This information facilitates proactively pinpoint bottlenecks so that issues are resolved before they impact users.

End-user experience monitoring

End-user experience monitoring is performed by mimicking user interaction with applications and network services to determine their availability and performance from the user perspective. This type of network monitoring is very effective to enforce quality of service and network performance. End-user experience monitoring offers a comprehensive perspective of how well services are meeting user expectations. The data helps IT organizations to quickly pinpoint and resolve issues that could negatively affect the end-user experience, leading to higher user satisfaction, increased productivity, and better alignment with business objectives.

Enterprise Network Monitoring Capabilities

Effective enterprise network monitoring requires adherence to best practices. These are essential to proactively detect network issues, quickly identify their root cause, and restore network performance and services as soon as possible. Let’s review some of the key elements of enterprise network monitoring that ensure that computer networks remain reliable and effective, two requirements for meeting business goals.

Real-Time monitoring

A real-time network performance monitoring system provides a continuous stream of diagnostic and performance data with minimal delay. Administrators can track network traffic, detect anomalies, and gather performance metrics like latency, packet loss, and throughput in real-time. This proactive approach allows for the immediate detection and resolution of issues, minimizing downtime and maintaining service reliability.

Data granularity

Data granularity is another critical component of real-time systems. This is dictated by the refresh rate of the data that is received by the monitoring agents and that is displayed on the monitoring dashboard. Network infrastructures and users can suffer brief periods of performance degradation that inevitably impact the user experience. If a network monitoring system doesn’t have enough granularity of the metrics collected, it won’t be able to detect these problems and alter the support team.

Scalability in monitoring solutions

Scalability is an important requirement for enterprise network monitoring systems. The ability to scale to thousands of nodes or agents while retaining the same performance levels is a must have for large sized network infrastructures. When a network monitoring system lacks scalability, the addition of more elements increases the time required for data collection, thereby diminishing the system’s real-time capabilities and reducing the granularity of the insights. This has serious implications for an enterprise network monitoring strategy, as it reduces the proactiveness in detecting and resolving network outages.

Interoperability and API

It’s pretty common for organizations to use more than one system to implement enterprise network monitoring. Interoperability is crucial to enable the integration of different solutions so that they can work together to accomplish the business goals. To accomplish this, tools provide an Application Programming Interface (API) that enables the exchange of information between applications. APIs enable software developers and system integrators to query and push data from and to a system using specific functions. On top of APIs, There are other methods and protocols that enable interoperability between systems, such as webhooks, SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol), SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol), syslog, and dedicated integrations.

NetBeez, an Enterprise Network Monitoring Solution

NetBeez is a scalable enterprise monitoring solution that provides network insights on end-user experience, network performance, and application performance. The solution relies on hardware and software agents that deliver a comprehensive set of network and application performance data in real-time. Thanks to a simple user interface, and a powerful API, NetBeez is a game changer in an enterprise network monitoring environment. Request a product tour or free trial of NetBeez. 

NetBeez key capabilities

Real-time data feeds for quick detection

NetBeez detects network and remote issues as soon as they occur before users even notice. Performance data from remote sensors is sent in real-time to the server, then processed by the alerts engine and displayed on the dashboard.

Granular results for spotting sporadic issues

NetBeez provides granular data points to cut down troubleshooting times. Thanks to this high fidelity of performance measurements, the network administrator can get the whole picture over time. Tools that rely on relaxed checks and sampled data don’t provide sufficient insights for fast troubleshooting.

Distributed monitoring

Remote sensors collect performance and availability data from multiple locations. The root cause of a network or application performance issue can be quickly identified. This also includes when it has to be proven that is not the network to be at fault.

Scales without reducing polling interval

NetBeez easily scales without compromising polling intervals or causing dashboard reporting delays. This is because NetBeez data management uses a push architecture, where monitoring agents send data to the server, rather than a pull architecture where the server queries the agents.

User-defined anomaly settings

NetBeez offers a flexible and powerful user-defined anomaly detection system that relies on different algorithms, and alert types. Alerts and anomalies can trigger notifications or other events, such as webhooks.

Integrations and interoperability

NetBeez provides a JSON-based API, supports most common protocols (SMTP, SNMP, syslog, etc.) and offers out-of-the-box integrations with leading network management solutions, such as ServiceNow, Splunk, etc. The monitoring agents can be easily deployed on Linux, Docker, VMware, and the leading networking vendors such as Cisco, Arista, and Extreme Networks.

Conclusion on Enterprise Network Monitoring

In summary, enterprise network monitoring is a vital component of modern IT infrastructure management. It provides essential visibility into network performance, application health, and end-user experience. By leveraging advanced monitoring tools, organizations can proactively detect and resolve issues, thereby minimizing downtime and ensuring continuous service availability. While challenges such as scalability, noise generation, and interoperability exist, adopting best practices and choosing robust solutions like NetBeez can significantly mitigate these risks. NetBeez, with its scalable architecture, real-time data feeds, and comprehensive integration capabilities, exemplifies an effective network monitoring solution.

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