Network monitoring software is an application that observes traffic and device behavior on a network, either the internet or an internal company network. Network monitoring seeks to improve network and device performance, so the network can better transmit data between users.
In this definition...
What does network monitoring software do?
Network monitoring software:
- Examines logs of network traffic that come from each device, or point, on the network. These logs can include data on throughput, bandwidth, and enterprise server performance.
- Mapping how devices on the network connect and interact. A network monitoring tool will notice if a device is dropping packets received from another point on the network.
- Alerts enterprises of problems on the network. This can include packet dropping or entire outages, allowing businesses to begin solving the problems more quickly.
These network tools often uses Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), which network devices typically support. This protocol enables network administrators to monitor network devices through an agent, which provides individual device data.
Why is network monitoring important?
Network monitoring software identifies when network devices have gone offline. These notifications allow network administrators to more quickly bring a network back up when it falters or crashes due to device outages. The software also identifies poorly performing devices; if a point on the network is slower than usual or a device is dropping packets, the monitoring tool logs this information and passes it to administrators.
Network monitoring tools log bandwidth and throughput on network devices. They’re useful for identifying bottlenecks. For example, when a point on the network is overwhelmed with traffic, the software logs that information, detailing the specific location of the bottleneck.
Disadvantages of network monitoring software
Network monitoring software isn’t reliable for cloud computing environments because workloads in the cloud don’t have consistent IP addresses, and cloud providers are the ones responsible for the network. Public cloud customers aren’t able to track the connections between their applications when those workloads are living in a hosted cloud environment.
Network monitoring is a useful tool for improving network device performance and identifying problems and bottlenecks on the network. However, it’s a limited application, especially if enterprises want to detect threats on the network. Tools only dedicated to monitoring don’t have advanced capabilities to identify attacks.
Difference between network monitoring and network security monitoring
Traditional network monitoring software is performance-based, meaning it looks more at device behavior and quality of network connections than at potential threats. Traditional monitoring tools are not sophisticated enough to reliably identify possible attacks in web traffic because it doesn’t collect or monitor enough data to do so.
Network monitoring software that focuses on security and intrusion detection identifies possible threats or excessive traffic by inspecting each packet, or request, along a network. Network security monitoring tools must alert businesses immediately when an attack is detected, so the company can mitigate or halt the threat.
Top network monitoring software
Major providers include:
- ManageEngine OpManager
- Paessler PRTG
- Progress WhatsUp Gold
- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
Read next: Best Open Source Network Monitoring Tools