What's Under the Hood? What the Best Network Monitoring Tools Have in Common
by Christine Cignoli on

From LAN to WAN, WiFi to VoIP, network monitoring is now critical for companies to get the most from their IT infrastructure. The network monitoring market is set to spike as more companies spend IT budget on tools that help keep tabs on network performance.

But what really makes the difference? What do the best network monitoring tools have in common? Let’s break down critical features on the surface and under the hood that set the best network monitoring tools apart from the competition.

Network Monitoring Market Forces

The rise of network monitoring tools is no surprise. Reliable cloud networks, business-capable smartphone infrastructure and the rapid uptake of always-connected IoT devices have expanded and diversified corporate networks, putting IT teams in the unenviable position of keeping tabs on diverse, distributed networks that don’t always play by the same rules or leverage the same metrics as each other. Just like diversifying cloud markets, network monitoring vendors have emerged to fill the void—and just like cloud offerings, these monitoring solutions are not created equal.

As a result, enterprise IT teams have to thoroughly evaluate current monitoring offerings and determine how well they align with business and network priorities. This starts with collecting data about potential providers, including their online reputation, performance track record and commitment to monitoring solution upgrades and feature improvements to provide more complete analysis of corporate networks.

But that’s just the beginning—many prospective vendors have carved out their own niche in the monitoring market. So the next step is to make sure the best network monitoring tools have feature sets and performance benchmarks that put them ahead of competitors.

Key Differentiators for Network and Application Monitoring

The best network monitoring tools, meanwhile, go beyond basic record-and-report offerings to deliver value-added features which both streamline IT operations and improve network outcomes.

These key differentiators include:

  • Continuous MonitoringIdeal advanced monitoring solutions should run 24/7/365 gathering critical data about network performance baselines to gather information about potential problems. Standout offerings are identified by their ability to conduct monitoring with minimal impact to overall network performance. Cloud-based solutions often have the upper hand since they’re able to leverage critical resources off-site.
  • The Complete PictureTraditional monitoring solutions worked because companies owned the network end-to-end, but that’s no longer the case for digital-first enterprises. So a modern monitoring solution must provide data on a per-app basis, providing total visibility even when services are accessed beyond your network borders.
  • Data at a DistanceBest-in-class tools must also include robust remote monitoring to help businesses gather end-user data from satellite offices, mobile devices, and networks in development.

Improved Monitoring Offerings

The best network monitoring tools don’t operate in a vacuum; leading providers are continuously developing new ways to improve the end-user and administrator experience while reducing the total overhead and impact of these solutions. Consider the development of “programmable” network and application monitoring tools, which allow companies to easily customize inputs, outputs and thresholds for monitoring alerts.

The evolution of closed-loop networks provides the ideal platform for automated tools capable of diagnosing issues and healing networks without IT oversight. In addition, automation is critical for cloud-based networks, given the sheer number of connections and endpoints IT staff are now tasked with effectively managing. Introducing automated features such as remote logging, early warnings and deep data gathering when problems are detected can help identify potential problems and reduce the impact of network issues.

Improved cloud offerings combined with big data analytics are also paving the way for network monitoring tools capable of verifying potential network performance rather than simply managing current trends, according to Network World. In effect, this is the critical shift from responsive network monitoring to proactive detection tools—by analyzing how traffic should flow through networks and what could happen when packets are handled, there’s potential here to describe what the ideal network looks like and actively pursue this end goal. Here, big data is key; companies need solutions capable of complete end-to-end monitoring and collection across SaaS deployments, data centers, and remote sites.

Monitoring That’s a Cut Above

Networks are quickly becoming more complex as cloud offerings rapidly deliver more power, flexibility and reliability. Legacy, device-centric network monitoring can no longer keep pace, since it can’t provide total network visibility.

Tools that are up to the task share common key features, such as continuous monitoring, total visibility and remote data capture. They have to see into cloud and SaaS provider networks, and perform in a lightweight way to not overload production networks. You can’t control what you can’t see, and for IT teams today, that lack of control has to change.

Take control of your network with the best network monitoring tools available from AppNeta. Try our demo today.

Filed Under: Networking Technology, Performance Monitoring

Tags: end user experience monitoring , monitoring technology , network monitoring