In Network Security article we learned about security measures and intrusion detection systems which monitor networks for threats coming from outside by unauthorized users. But external threads are not the only reason for crashing or failing of network systems. Every network administration specialist would tell you that in many cases network failures are first caused by internal issues like overloaded servers, slow performance of network connections or incompatibility issues on deployed software or devices.
This article observes the concept of network monitoring, its areas and solutions.
Monitoring and its Mission
Network Monitoring System (NMS) is not aimed at tracking network related problems only but it is also a strategic measure that assists in optimization of data flow and access in an unexpectedly changing environment. In other words monitoring focuses not only on security issues but mainly on optimization, effective management and deployment of networks.
Network Monitoring is basically used for determining:
– status of servers (overloaded, crashed etc.)
– user activity and data transmission (network traffic)
– snail-paced webpage downloads
– connectivity performance level (end-to-end response time)
Network monitoring is commonly done by sending a “ping,” or test, to each computer or system on the network. Monitoring of networks is implemented based on server and protocol types. To monitor a web server, monitoring software periodically sends HTTP request to get a page. Email servers are monitored by sending a test message through SMTP and retrieving response via IMAP or POP3 servers. As a rule, most of network monitoring systems test server in the interval of from once-per-hour to once-per-minute. Some other monitoring systems also audit and find routing issues which can cause undesirable performance degradation or downtime. This type of network measurement is known as Route Analysis.
Another important area of network measurement is Network Tomography. NT studies network’s structure, internal characteristics and health of various links in a network using information derived from end point data.
Monitoring of Corporate Networks
Obviously, business and enterprise networks require more serious and professional approach in establishing of effective and reliable network monitoring system. Monitoring of internal corporate networks is a critical IT prerequisite, because its successful engagement can save money, dramatically increase employee productivity, help set up optimal infrastructure solutions and provide safe collaboration environment for the company.
You would be pleasurably surprised if you know that monitoring is a valuable asset to office and project managers in terms of overseeing the whole activity within company network.
How to set up an effective NMS?
Think of network monitoring system as your deputy who supervises network, alarms and reports of your network events and problems.
There are three main components that build up an effective network monitoring solution. NMS should be armed at least with dedicated power lines, back-up generators and reliable software. Dedicated power lines help the system to stay always up and running, the back-up generators periodically make backup copies of the system data and the software is the tool for effective and visual control of monitoring and analysis. NMS is the most critical part of any IT network system, as it is the “guy” that sounds alarm if something is wrong.
The successful setup of network monitoring system depends on the selected solution of software and hardware combination. Some network monitoring software only scan the network retrieving the data while others also provide possibility to audit and generate various traffic and statistical reports, and analyze the current state of the network system, even suggest optimal solutions to make the situation better. Such software is great asset to the system administrators and thus the more comprehensive monitoring software the better the virtual control over the network.
Nowadays IT market is rich in various network software solutions and it makes difficult to choose amongst them. For obtaining an optimal software solution for your network monitoring you might first want to consider such factors as targeted solution, ability to handle voluminous data, ability to generate various reports on system status and security, customizability and of course easy-to use feature.
So if you are interested in obtaining a software which comprises all these features in it for your network monitoring and audit you should have closer look at some popular software solutions such as NBMonitor and Nsauditor highly rated by authoritative reviewers.
Originally posted at Network Security Magazine