What is Network Monitoring?

Your network can become a massive burden to your business operations if not managed correctly. This article will review what is network monitoring, its benefits, and how to optimize its performance.


Network monitoring is a common term throughout the IT industry. For organizations, its meaning is crucial for how networks and connected devices perform. Detecting network issues will require effective monitoring.

An important aspect of the monitoring process is the ability to identify network-connected devices along with their performance metrics. These endpoints include servers, switches, routers, and all others connecting and exchanging information related to business-critical tasks.

Therefore, you need network administrators prepared to catch problems early and resolve them as quickly as possible. Doing so can optimize uptime while preventing outages and other issues interrupting your organization.

What is Network Monitoring?

Network monitoring is the process of closely observing all components of interconnected devices for faulty or performance issues. All endpoints, such as firewalls and servers, are constantly evaluated to optimize their availability on the network.

Proactive monitoring improves the chances of identifying issues at early stages. Maximum effectiveness occurs with a network monitoring solution that includes high-availability components.

Faulty devices will negatively impact how your network performs. However, early detection can help you avoid a network breakdown. Effective and efficient network performance monitoring of your organization requires:

• Focusing only on essential endpoints
• Optimizing monitoring intervals
• Selecting the right tools and protocols
• Setting appropriate thresholds

Generally, the network monitoring tools your IT team uses should provide a process that:

• Monitors, troubleshoots, and remediates network performance issues
• Gives a full view of your organization’s IT and network infrastructure
• Uses analysis tools to pinpoint the root cause of a problem
• Includes an at-a-glance visualization dashboard with visualization tools and reports

Another important aspect is using continuous monitoring. This will help to ensure network integrity. As you review options, keep in mind that network monitoring tools providing quick status updates are the best. They allow you to get in front of disturbances before a major problem occurs.

Key Benefits of Network Monitoring

Not only do network failures impact the overall performance of your IT infrastructure, but they also disrupt business operations throughout your organization. Therefore, visibility is a key benefit of network monitoring.

Visualizing how data flows across various devices and networks means better response times with problems. Furthermore, automating this critical task improves the use of your IT resources. Instead of extinguishing network fires, network admins can work on bottom-line value projects.

Other important benefits to your organization include:

• Catching performance issues before they negatively impact the customer experience
• Identifying usage spikes so remedial actions occur to minimize usage impact
• Detecting unknown devices or unexpected traffic that may indicate a cyber attack attempt

Another important benefit of network monitoring is helping IT track infrastructure utilization. Your network administrator will know when an upgrade or capacity expansion is necessary to alleviate latency issues.

Primary Factors for Monitoring Your Network

Network security prevents unauthorized access to your network. The increased complexity and size of business networks can expose companies to data breaches and malicious attacks. Network monitoring helps to keep hackers away. The authenticity of data requires periodical checks for tampered files. Network monitoring software and other management tools can control access levels for onsite and remote users. Not only can administrators minimize or eliminate security threats, but they can also prevent unauthorized network changes.

High availability ensures network connectivity occurs uninterrupted. Continuous availability of network monitoring tools means your organization is prepared to handle a crash or connection loss. Real-time alerts report incidents such as unhealthy bandwidth levels, poor device health, or system attacks. IT administrators can take immediate action with countermeasures to avoid negative impacts on your organization.

Scalability extends the scope of a network monitoring system. Expansion opportunities should not be put on hold because your network infrastructure cannot handle the growth. Instead, you want a software monitoring tool that matches the demands of business operations. To have successful network monitoring, you need a solution that adds new endpoint devices as they are introduced to your network infrastructure.

Flexibility allows customized network monitoring that aligns with your organization’s needs. Monitoring your network with the right software means having a clear overview of your network’s status at all times. Furthermore, metrics are critical to achieving flexibility. This requires real-time monitoring of firewalls, servers, routers, apps, printers, and any other device. Administrators can quickly troubleshoot network problems.

Types of Network Monitoring Tools and Protocols

The evolution of complex networks housing the latest technologies requires network performance monitoring to match these advancements. Network monitoring tools deliver five basic functions:

• Discover network devices
• Layout of the entire network map
• Monitor network traffic and processes
• Alert of potential device malfunction
• Report real-time issues

Your network administrators use these tools to view your organization’s network health and performance. With network monitoring protocols, administrators have real-time metrics of network activities.

Network Packet Analyzers

Packets consist of user data and control information for the source and destination of the data. They are designed to efficiently transmit data and allow more than one computer to share a connection allowing users to transfer data simultaneously.

In monitoring, network packet analyzers examine each packet of data to ensure information gets routed as intended. Your team will use these to know when personally identifiable information is breached. Additionally, these analyzers determine if users visit prohibited websites.

Services Monitoring and Application Performance Monitoring

Providing computer network services such as resource sharing and database management to users is part of daily business operations. Employees will use printers throughout the workday. Databases also store information and make it available when needed.

An efficient and comprehensive solution such as network monitoring software is vital to these applications and services. Features that also monitor cloud-based applications help to ensure your organization maintains network integrity.

Access Management Monitoring

Accessibility is just as important as functionality when it comes to monitoring a network. The primary goals are to ensure user access to network resources and not grant access to intruders. A prime example is how the workplace has expanded with many employees working remotely.

You want to give employees access to the business network from anywhere in the world. At the same time, you need a process that quickly spots network issues before bad actors take advantage of vulnerabilities.

In addition to network monitoring tools, there are protocols with distinctive functionalities:

• Mapping: visualization of the network
• Monitoring: constantly watching the network
• Discovery: finding connected devices on the network
Notification: alerts when devices go down
• Reporting: real-time reporting of network activity

There are various standard protocols for network performance monitoring, as outlined below.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP):

This standard communication protocol uses a computer network to exchange documents and files from the server to the client.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP):

This communication protocol transfers hypertexts using HTML tags. These tags create links to establish connections between servers.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS):

HTTPS uses encryption to ensure data and communications transmitted among servers and computers remain secure.

Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP):

This protocol determines how email communications are stored and sent over a network using an internet connection.

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP):

By using SNMP, network administrators can remotely monitor and manage connected devices and applications via the Internet.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP):

As a standard communication guideline, TCP enables information exchange between devices and applications by dividing data into packets.

User Datagram Protocol (UDP):

Similar to TCP, UDP makes it easy for different systems, applications and services to exchange information.

Choosing the right network performance monitoring protocol is an important step. A common practice is adopting a secure protocol that does not use network bandwidth.

By doing so, you can minimize its impact on how the network performs without sacrificing managing and monitoring network elements.

Network Monitoring Thresholds

Any amount of network downtime can cost your organization money. An end-user reports an issue with the network. Your IT team spends time troubleshooting that issue. Employees must fill idle time because much of their tasks rely on the malfunctioned application.

Avoiding this scenario requires proactive monitoring of resources and services on network devices through proper configuration of thresholds. Using thresholds allows you to define the range for network performance on specific devices.

Synonymous with automation, configuring thresholds requires pinpointing core performance indicators such as:

• CPU load
• Errors
• File disk usage
• Inactivity
• Login activity
• Memory consumption
• Process activity
• User activity

Before an application stops working, your network administrator receives an alert when thresholds go below or exceed set boundaries. With this information, your IT team can look at those areas for potential issues.

Take the Next Step for Effective Monitoring of Your Network

Effective monitoring of non-critical and critical devices connected to your network requires having the right tools and protocols. As a managed services provider, Meriplex offers customized network monitoring solutions to identify, address and prevent issues that can interrupt performance.

With real-time monitoring and actionable insights, we make sure your IT administrator knows the current status of your network. Whether bandwidth, memory usage, or other functionalities, our tools detect potential failures and implement a swift response to prevent a disruption to your business operations.

Contact us today to learn more about a network monitoring solution designed to match your resource limits and business needs.