Network monitoring software products give network managers the ability to see how their networks are performing. Though the purpose of network monitoring tools is fairly simple, the implementation of network monitoring and network analysis can become quite complex, especially in large or highly distributed organizations. The overall goal is always the same, though, which is to ensure that the network is delivering the performance and availability expected by the organization.
Sometimes known as network analyzers, networking tools, network traffic monitors or network sniffer software, network monitoring software is subject to a wide range of selection criteria. Network management software users on IT Central Station have weighed in with numerous recommendations on what it takes to have a successful experience with these types of products.
IT Central Station members believe that the best network performance monitoring tools are easy to use and implement. Implementation works best when there is a single point of configuration, for example. User-friendly solutions with easy-to-understand dashboards are preferred.
Performance and scalability factors into many assessments of potential network analysis tools. Some users emphasize the importance of distributed, highly-available monitoring clusters, which are typically available in enterprise editions. Ideally, the solution will be vendor neutral to cover most networking brands.
Network managers want a network management system to see detailed information on specific problems, even at the packet level, offering guided troubleshooting for remediation. This includes diagnostics on problems related to latency, packet loss, total bandwidth utilization, QoS and jitter. They want to trace the connectivity of each devices in a multi vendor environment. Some network manager solutions offer a "network analysis" section to dissect and analyze flows.
Reporting, monitoring and alerting capabilities are critical. For example, some monitoring tools can reveal end-user experience for the network. Network admins look for solutions with highly configurable alerting. They want detailed alerts. For example, which application was using which capacity and when? Granular data is essential, explaining where issues are occurring in regards to traffic latency and bandwidth utilization and deep packet analysis Quality of Experience dashboard (QoE).