What Is Network Performance Monitoring and How Can You Implement It in Your Business?

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Keep your network running at its best!
Source: Goran Ivos on Unsplash

Network management has become increasingly complicated. This is because companies now have a lot of hybrid setups, which means they have on-premise servers mixing with cloud-based resources. International companies even have networks that span the globe! Therefore, you should have an effective network performance monitoring system in place. How well your network performs indicates how well your company will succeed. Specifically, you can suffer severe consequences if your network goes down for even a second.

In this article, I’ll cover network performance monitoring, its importance, how it works, and some best practices to help you out. I’ll end things with a list of the 3 best network performance monitoring tools on the market.

I’ll start with a definition of network performance monitoring.

What Is Network Performance Monitoring?

Network performance monitoring is the process of visualizing data and traffic across your network. You can then use this valuable information to optimize, monitor, and troubleshoot your network if you encounter any issues. Network performance monitoring also allows you to have your network status available at any time

So now you know the “what”, but why is the process of network performance monitoring important exactly? Let’s find out.

Why Is Network Performance Monitoring Important?

Network performance monitoring is important because it can help your network admins find and resolve problems more quickly. It can also help you find these issues before they affect your users. Additionally, network performance monitoring can provide you with data and metrics your team can use to optimize your network further.

Having said that, I’m sure you’re curious about how it works. No worries, I’ll talk about that next.

How Does Network Performance Monitoring Work?

You can use several diverse telemetry tools for network performance monitoring. You can look at device metrics, also known as flow data, such as CLI, API, logs, etc. Additionally, you can monitor network traffic such as NetFlow, jFlow, etc. Finally, you can even monitor the data packets themselves! Let’s go over these in more detail.

Flow Data 

Your networking devices, such as routers and switches, create flow data. This data lets you know which devices are communicating with other devices. Flow data also provides information on how long and often these devices communicated. This valuable info gives you a holistic view of what’s happening inside your network. It’s important to mention that you’ll get all the metrics required from the flow data, but you won’t know what data got transferred.

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) 

You can use Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to manage and monitor devices connected to your network. This is a widespread protocol that many businesses commonly use. It can quickly detect network outages, device failures, etc. In essence, SNMP is a great diagnostics tool that inspects bandwidth utilization, packet loss, errors, latency, memory, and CPUs.

Packet Capture

Packet capture involves copying data packets and keeping them for analysis. Specifically, this analysis helps system admins find and solve networking issues. Some examples of these issues include security threats, troubleshooting errors, packet loss, and packet resends. 

Now that you know how networking performance monitoring works, I’ll look at some best practices.

Image of two security cameras on a wall
I wonder what they’re monitoring…
Source: Scott Webb on Unsplash

Network Performance Monitoring Best Practices 

You should work with your system admins and your IT team to implement best practices to support your overall network performance monitoring goals. Here are some of those best practices.

Make an Inventory 

This will be an easy task if you’re just starting. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of work to do in taking inventory of all of your devices. However, some network monitoring tools (more on those later) have mapping tools that enable you to easily take inventory of all your devices.

Set a Baseline 

You won’t be able to spot any anomalies if you don’t have a baseline of what your network looks like when it’s running optimally. Not having a baseline can also make detecting issues in your network challenging. This is why you should initially collect a lot of data and set a clear baseline to refer to.

Create an Escalation Procedure Plan

You’ll want to know what skills your team has to handle different problems in your network. Additionally, you should consider creating an escalation matrix that contains all the networking employees, their specialties, and the order of escalation. Having this information in one centralized location helps to reduce confusion when severe issues pop up.

Maintain Availability and Have Failover Plans as Backup

The worst thing that can happen to your network is if it goes down or starts underperforming. You’ll want to ensure you’re keeping your network’s availability high. Also, have a failover plan as a backup in case your network goes down. You can use this plan to easily get your network up and running if your network goes down. This is especially important at peak business hours.

Plan for Growth

You should always have a plan to scale up—and sometimes down. Your business’s needs are constantly changing, and your networking team needs to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. In short, a growth plan ensures you can increase service quality and reduce interruptions.

Those are some important best practices to take note of. Next, I’ll take a look at some of the best network performance monitoring tools out there.

Top 3 Network Performance Monitoring Tools

You have various network performance monitoring tools that can do the job, but you don’t just want that. You want software that goes a bit beyond the job. These 3 tools do just that. Here are the top 3 network performance monitoring tools in the market today.

GFI Exinda NetworkOrchestrator

Achieve your network monitoring goals with GFI Exinda NetworkOrchestrator.
Source: GFI Software

GFI Exinda NetworkOrchestrator offers a unique perspective on your network from the end user’s point of view. This software solution provides you with real-time network monitoring and easy-to-use dashboards that allow you to get a leg up on any issues before they happen. Contact a representative to get a quote. 

Datadog

Datadog has colorful out-of-the-box dashboards!
Source: Datadog

Datadog provides several interesting and unique features, such as out-of-the-box dashboards and easy integrations with 500+ vendors! It even has an automatic watchdog feature that detects anomalies in your environment without any additional setup required. Get started with a 14-day free trial today!

SolarWinds Hybrid Cloud Observability

Logo of SolarWinds
SolarWinds has a 30-day free trial!
Source: SolarWinds.

SolarWinds Hybrid Cloud Observability is a platform that allows you to visualize, observe, and remediate any problems in your network. This solution includes automated discovery and mapping to devices, historical and real-time dashboards, AIOps, alerting, and customized reporting. You can start with a 30-day free trial. SolarWinds offers the essentials and advanced tiers for those looking to upgrade from the free trial. 

You’ve come far in your journey in learning more about network performance monitoring. Let’s go ahead and wrap things up now, shall we?

Final Words

To conclude, anyone who works with a modern, hybrid network will tell you that you need to have network performance monitoring in place. This is because you need to keep your network up and running at its optimum levels at all times. Your company’s reputation depends on a robust network. 

Network performance monitoring enables you to look at flow data, monitor network traffic, and monitor the data packets themselves. You should also implement some best practices into your network performance monitoring strategy. These best practices include making an inventory of your devices and setting a network baseline

Finally, I covered the top 3 network performance monitoring tools, including GFI Exinda NetworkOrchestrator, Datadog, and SolarWinds Hybrid Cloud Observability. Look at your business’s needs and requirements when choosing a tool. In the end, you’ll be thankful that you have an effective monitoring system in place.

Do you have more questions about network performance monitoring? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!

FAQ

How do network performance monitoring tools work?

The simplest command works by pinging a host to test availability in an IP network. A ping can return data such as host activity and packet loss. Pinging is very basic, however. With a network monitoring suite, you can have many high-end tools at your disposal. 

What is network performance management?

Network performance management refers to all the techniques used to manage performance across a network. The process requires constant monitoring of mission-critical network functions and metrics. 

What is a throughput monitor?

Throughput is how much data a network can transmit within a set period. For example, an ethernet connection that transfers data at a rate of 50 Mbps has a throughput of 50 Mbps. Network throughput monitoring can help protect the high-speed transmission rates.   

What types of network monitoring are available?

You have four types of network monitoring available: availability monitoring, configuration monitoring, performance monitoring, and cloud infrastructure monitoring. These types are generally all lumped into the general category of network monitoring

What features are a must in network monitoring solutions?

When selecting a network monitoring solution, you’ll want to ensure they have the following features: real-time data dashboards, auto device discovery, root cause analysis, network maps, scalability, customizable dashboards, and alerts. You’re good to go if you find all of these features on a particular tool!

Resources

TechGenix: Article on Network Monitoring in a Hybrid World

Discover how you can monitor your network in a hybrid world.

TechGenix: Article on Network Monitoring

Learn more about network monitoring.

TechGenix: Article on Network Infrastructure Security (NIS)

Read about the importance of network infrastructure security (NIS).

TechGenix: Article on the Top 5 Network Vulnerability Scanners

Find out what the top 5 network vulnerability scanners are in 2022.

TechGenix: Article on Common Network Security Threats

Explore the common network security threats and how to prevent them.

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