Network monitoring solutions and SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) have been around for over twenty years; and has become a staple of many a network. With age comes a scepticism about how innovative such solutions can be; and whether or not they are commoditised, with literally hundreds of vendors offering such tools.
On the surface, this is probably a fair assessment as most solutions will offer common capabilities such as email notification of problems, a mapped network diagram and the usage of protocols such as WMI, SNMP and Netflow. However, dig a little deeper and you might find some feature sets which are unique and truly innovative.
Take a look at our top five network monitoring solution features, which you might not have known about:
Integration with tool such as ServiceNow - Long past are the days where the only mechanism for alerting was email or SMS. Network monitoring solutions now have a plethora of integration capabilities to fit in with the workflows and automation needs of the modern network. ServiceNow is a great example, whereby integration with a ticketing system can create jobs and schedule IT support maintenance when devices require it...and yet it doesn't stop there. IFTTT (If This Then That) is an exciting automation framework which can enable network monitoring solutions to interact with both the physical and virtual worlds.
File Integrity Monitoring - Although not as sophisticated as some of the dedicated solutions such as NNT's Change Tracker. Network monitoring solutions have the capability to monitor specified files for change; and alert, possibly using capabilities highlighted in point one, when it has. There are some great applications for this, such as monitoring the hosts file on critical infrastructure to ensure that malware is not altering the routing paths of traffic.
Become the GUI for your network devices - Maybe we are a spoilt bunch but nobody wants to get their hands dirty with CLIs (Command Line Interface) anymore. When given SSH or Telnet credentials, network monitoring tools can be used to issue scripted commands to network devices, at the click of a button. Want to add a new VLAN (Virtual LAN) or deactivate a port? Click on a predefined script and watch the network monitoring tool do all the hard work.
.Restart services which have stopped - Picture the scene...your users have alerted you to an unresponsive network hosted service. You have to find the hostname or IP address, remote desktop to it, wait for the Server Manager to finish doing its thing, find the offending service and restart it. All consuming precious time. Network monitoring tools can detect a down service and automatically attempt to restart it, with almost no latency time at all.
Estimate your cloud hosting costs - Where networks were once built behind huge firewalls and other types of defences. Today's networks are the opposite, with hybrid and in some cases entire network in the cloud. It all comes at a cost however, with Google, AWS and Azure all charging for their hosting services based on the number of devices and the processing power they consume. Network monitoring solutions which are cloud aware, can connect to the APIs of cloud hosts and determine the real-time costs of cloud hosting at any point in the billing period.
Scratching the Network Monitoring Solution Surface
...and that is just the five we could fit into our blog without making it unbearably long. Network monitoring solutions have come a long way from the days of SNMP monitoring and now boast all manners of functionality, from WiFi diagnostics to incident management.
If you do not have a network monitoring solution; or if yours does not match up to some of the features discussed in this blog, maybe it's time to look at something more modern.