7 Key Considerations to Make Before Choosing a Network Monitoring Software

If you’ve been around the tech community, then the term network monitoring is probably not new to you. In fact it’s getting thrown around more lately and rightly so. If only there was someone on the internet who could strip it down to its skeleton and explain it in a language we can all understand, that’d be great.

Mmmh, today’s your lucky day.

Your Enterprise Network As A Maze

Your enterprise network is vast and complex and possibly relies on innumerable connected endpoints. While this is good for your business operations and makes your workflow a total breeze, it also presents a security challenge. The problem is that the flexibility of movement within your network means that if a bad actor gains access to your network, they have the license to move around and wreak havoc on crucial business data, often without your knowledge.

Enter Network Monitoring

This is where the concept of network monitoring comes into play. In today's environment of constant, technically-complex security threats, a network monitoring software can act as your first (and best) line of defense. After all, the ideal network monitoring software can give complete visibility to the status of network devices, systems, and applications and alert you to potential security breaches before they cause devastating—and costly—downtimes.

While understanding benefits can be pretty much straightforward, choosing the right solution is a whole different story. The market is awash with all kinds of network monitoring software: closed or open-sourced, hosted or on-premises, paid or free, just to name a few.

With all these options available, you need to pick the solution that addresses your unique business needs. This post will look into the top considerations to make before selecting a network monitoring solution for your IT infrastructure. Shall we?

1. Understand Your Preferences

The first question you should ask yourself is: "Do I really need to spend the big bucks on paid software?"

Indeed, free and open-source network monitoring software might not cost you a dime. However, just like freebies, free performance monitoring tools are too good to be true. They come with limited features and require the user to pull together IT different monitoring tools to attain full functionality. This, of course, can complicate configuration and maintenance in the long run.

When it's something as crucial as your network, it's always prudent to go for a single paid solution that incorporates all the vital features. With all network devices, applications, and systems monitored from a unified, actionable interface, it becomes easier and quicker to fix issues.

With that in mind, go for a monitoring tool with an easy-to-use customized dashboard. Such an application will keep track of all the relevant data about your network and come equipped with network topology-aware maps, status reports/graphs, and commands for fixing different issues.

Additionally, look for an IT infrastructure monitoring solution that comes with real-time alerting capabilities. It is virtually impossible to sit in front of the interface 24/7, and when the service detects a change in the network, it should trigger automated actions such as email alerts and SMS alerts.

2. Ease of Implementation & Customization

No matter how useful a network monitoring tool is, it won't serve the desired purpose if it's challenging to roll out.

As you weigh the pros and cons of each tool, examine the implementation work your team will be required to do, including provisioning servers and storage, deploying agents, creating databases, and continually managing the different components of the whole setup.

Implementation is one area where purchased solutions have a unique advantage. They have a simpler implementation and customization mechanism since all components are pre-built into the monitoring tool. This allows you to hit the ground running much faster.

3. Usability

Ease of implementation is vital, but usability is a much bigger factor in determining a performance monitoring tool's suitability. You will get more value from a solution that's easy to use and which gives real-time, actionable reports.

A network monitoring solution’s very purpose is to allow decision-makers to focus on the core business activities by reducing the time it takes to detect, isolate, troubleshoot, and resolve a network issue. So, this is a consideration that you can’t afford to sweep under the carpet.

4. Scalability

Another factor to consider involves the infrastructure of the software, including its scalability.

Your network is rarely static. It expands to accommodate the growing number of nodes, users, devices, systems, and traffic every year. That's why it's crucial to look for a network monitoring tool that can scale its data collection and reporting capabilities in tandem with the growing size of your network as well as your business.

5. Encryption

While data encryption remains a new concern in network monitoring, it's particularly crucial for finance and healthcare industries, which have compliance requirements. This is because malicious actors are always looking for vulnerable paths to exploit, and your monitoring software could provide that easy path to your networks.

For IT decision-makers in the finance and healthcare industry, it's not only the emerging threats that are of concern but also the compliance requirements about how they manage sensitive information. These compliance standards such as SOX, PCI-DSS, and HIPAA are very rigorous, and your company could be at risk of penalties in case of non-compliance. To avoid this common pitfall, choose a network monitoring software vendor that complies with such requirements from the get-go.

6. Automatic Device Discovery

Some tools come with inbuilt automatic discovery, allowing the service to determine the network's current status using a powerful Layer 2/3 discovery scan. For example, if your company adds a new network device, a performance monitoring tool with automatic device discovery can collect and report on device type, vendor, serial, hardware and firmware rev, and other modules. This ensures your map is always up to date.

7. Pricing

This is one of the hardest things to choose. All monitoring software vendors have their own licensing structure, and it's not easy to decide which pricing structure suits you best.

Some vendors charge per sensor or element, which refers to a single monitored item such as network traffic or cloud interface. But in this case, even if you want to monitor many items, you will still have to purchase a license for every other sensor/element on your network.

Others charge depending on the number of devices, applications, virtual servers, and network flow sources on your network. This option is more flexible, especially if you want to monitor a large number of network items. You only need to buy one all-inclusive package, and you're good to go!

Find & Fix Network Problems Faster With WhatsUp Gold

WhatsUp Gold is an edge-to-edge network monitoring, alerting, and mapping solution that is both user-friendly and powerful. WhatsUp Gold brings your networks (both wired and wireless) to life, giving you a complete picture of your devices, servers, applications, virtual environments, and more.

Its Automated Device Discovery feature allows you to instantly discover any device on your network and how they are connected. What's more, it utilizes real-time, strategic, and customizable reporting. This means you'll be notified about anything that can compromise your network's health so you can troubleshoot problems before users even notice. Better yet, WhatsUp Gold allows you to send the right types of alerts to the right people automatically!

The unified dashboard provides an in-depth, at-a-glance view of all heterogeneous environments and vendors on your network. You get to improve up-time and network performance on the fly by monitoring and analyzing everything from one actionable, fully personalized dashboard.

WhatsUp Gold Network Maps feature is the cherry on the icing on your network monitoring cake. It provides interactive workplaces that allow you to create a vision of your network—see it the way you want and manage it the way you want! You can turn on device dependency to quickly detect issues and understand how they will cascade through network infrastructure—both wired and virtual.

Choosing the best network monitoring solution can take time and consideration, but having easy-to-use, powerful solution in place can help improve security and provide enhanced insight into your network's status. What's more, it can save your organization money, time, and peace of mind, allowing you and your team to focus on the one thing that matters most: growing your bottom line.

To test and discover more features of our network monitoring software, download our 14-day free trial today!

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