What is Network Monitoring


Network monitoring involves the continuous surveillance of a computer network to detect issues such as slow traffic or hardware failures. Specialized tools are utilized to scan the network and alert network administrators through various means, such as text messages, emails, or communication platforms like Slack when problems arise. Unlike network security or intrusion detection systems, which focus on external threats, monitoring primarily concerns internal network issues such as overloaded routers, server failures, or connectivity problems that could impact other network devices.

In addition to alerting administrators, monitoring solutions can also take proactive measures, such as initiating failover procedures to redirect traffic away from problematic devices or circuits until the underlying issue is resolved. The goal of a proactive network monitoring approach is to prevent downtime or failures by identifying and addressing anomalies before they escalate.

Continuous monitoring is essential for maintaining network integrity. Effective monitoring tools often provide a visual dashboard that displays the status of various network components, highlighting any deviations from normal operation that may require further investigation. These components can include switches, routers, firewalls, servers, as well as software services, applications, or URLs that could be causing network disruptions. To ensure uninterrupted monitoring, a network monitoring system should incorporate high-availability components that can automatically switch to backup systems in case of hardware or software failures.

Key features of a comprehensive monitoring system include:

  • Visualization of the organization’s entire IT and network infrastructure
  • Monitoring, troubleshooting, and resolution of network performance issues
  • Root cause analysis tools for diagnosing problems
  • Dashboard with clear visualization tools and detailed reports.

Why is Network Monitoring important?

Network failures can significantly affect overall IT performance and cause availability issues across an organization. Implementing monitoring offers several key benefits, including:

  1. Cost savings: By reducing downtime and expediting remediation processes through root cause analysis or by identifying over- or under-utilized network elements. This allows network resources to focus on productive tasks instead of continuously troubleshooting issues.
  2. Proactive issue detection: Performance problems can be identified before they impact business operations or lead to a degraded customer experience, enabling timely intervention.
  3. Enhanced network security: It can detect unexpected traffic or unknown devices connecting to the network, serving as early indicators of potential cyberattacks or ransomware attempts.
  4. Early detection of usage spikes: It can identify usage spikes, such as login storms or seasonal traffic increases, enabling administrators to take remedial action to prevent any impact on usage.
  5. Monitoring rogue application usage: It helps track which applications and users are using the network, ensuring that only approved applications are being utilized by each business unit.

How does Network Monitoring work?

There are various types of network monitoring methods. For example, email monitoring may involve sending test emails and measuring response times, while web server testing could include sending an HTTP request to access a specific page and recording the time until it is served.

Initially, devices and network connections are identified, along with their associated performance metrics. Subsequently, the organization determines the frequency of monitoring for each function. For instance, client laptops and printers, which are not considered “network critical,” may have longer monitoring intervals compared to routers, switches, and servers that form the network backbone.

Most network monitoring tools utilize the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to manage and monitor network elements. SNMP agents, present in most network components, can reconfigure devices, take them offline if they are performing erratically, or collect information about the device’s performance. Network monitoring systems regularly “ping” system ports, and if a device reports a parameter outside the established threshold, an alert is automatically generated for remediation before device failure. Typically, network components are pinged between once a minute and once an hour.

Some network devices, like routers and switches, use the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) to communicate information regarding Internet Protocol (IP) operations and to generate error messages when devices fail.

What are the types of  Monitoring?

It employs various devices and protocols to ensure network integrity and security.

  1. Network Packet Analyzers: These tools scrutinize the data in each packet traversing the network. They can determine if packets are routed correctly, detect visits to prohibited websites by employees, or identify the exfiltration of sensitive data like personally identifiable information (PII), such as social security numbers.
  2. Application and Services Monitoring: This aspect focuses on monitoring systems and devices crucial for network integrity. It ensures they operate within normal limits and tracks which applications are being used by different business units across the organization.
  3. Access Management Monitoring: This component ensures that unauthorized individuals do not gain access to network resources. For instance, if an employee suddenly logs in from an IP address in a different continent, the monitoring system can flag this as suspicious activity. This helps in quickly identifying and remediating network vulnerabilities and detecting potential intruders before they cause harm.

Ready to transform your network monitoring and testing? Partner with a COUPLE of GURUS  today and experience unparalleled expertise and support. Contact us now to schedule a consultation and take your network to the next level